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The Story of a Veteran

Facing Hunger in Manhattan, Kansas

I am a thirty six year old Army Veteran. I served thirteen years in the military and during that time I was deployed three times. I joined the military to be able to do something amazing like serve my country and found out that I would be able to go to college during my time in the army. Nobody in my family had ever gone to college before, so I was excited to have the opportunity to do so. While I was in the army, I earned my associate degree as well as a bachelor’s degree. I do love to go to school and learn. I am actually in the process of working on my second bachelor’s degree in biology! I guess you could say I’m kind of a nerd!

The second and third time I was overseas, I was injured multiple times. Not only did I have to have constructive knee surgery, I also had back and neck injuries, was diagnosed with PTSD, and was exposed to some kind of chemical that gave me internal injuries. As you can imagine, this has made everyday living a struggle.

After I got back to the United States, I was stationed here in Manhattan. I am having a hard time finding a job because of all of my injuries. Since I am retired I am able to get pension from the military but that money doesn’t go far. Sometimes I look back and ask myself if joining the military was a good choice for myself. I have a couple of degrees but I can’t even find a job because of the injuries I got when I was deployed to serve my country.

I am now a single father of two beautiful children. Unfortunately, the mother of my children and I could not make things work so we got a divorce. I am lucky to have half custody and be very involved in my kids’ lives. But it is hard. It’s hard to have to watch your kids go without things that they want or need. It’s hard to not be able to do anything about it but promise them that one day everything will be better. Some days I am just happy that my kids have full bellies even if I don’t have anything to eat myself.

Every month is a stretch but I always find a way to make ends meet although it’s slim pickings. I come to the Breadbasket twice a month and I must say that this has been such a huge help to my little family. I have seen other people worse off and I can’t imagine being in their position. I hope and pray that this is only a temporary situation.

As told to Alyssa Casanova

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