LUBBOCK, Texas — Honor Veterans Now has served over 200,000 meals to veterans in need through their Meals for Vets program. The program began in 2015 after directors recognized food security as one of the biggest challenges for veterans adjusting to civilian life.
“Transitioning into civilian life from military life is very, very difficult sometimes,” said Mike Cagle, the program director for Honor Veterans Now. “It takes you a while to assimilate, get back into the swing of things.”
As veterans come out of combat, many struggle to find a source of stable income. With Covid-19 adding another layer of layoffs and complications over the past several months, some Texas veterans have found it difficult to balance paying the bills while putting food on the table.
Fortunately, Meals for Vets has stepped up to help out.
“Due to the pandemic, to COVID-19, they ended up being furloughed from their job or lost their jobs,” said Cagle. “And so they had no way — it was either pay the rent, pay for medicine or eat. So they would call us, and we’ve had quite a few veterans right now signed up with our program.”
Cagle explained how large the veteran population in Lubbock is.
“In just Lubbock County alone, there’s 14,509,” said Cagle. “And the veterans that are suffering from food insecurity, it’s not that they’re unlike anybody else, but they have their problems, and it sort of comes into focus because of the fact that they, again, are so used to taking care of others and being able to provide for themselves, and then all sudden they can’t do it.”
Cagle said that although Meals for Vets can assist, it can sometimes be difficult for veterans to ask for help.
“So some of them are really reluctant to call us,” said Cagle. “And they’ll tell us that ‘Look, man, I’m so embarrassed about this, I really don’t want to do.’ So, we will let them know that ‘Hey, OK. Stay on this as long as you need to.'”
Cagle also explained how the program helps veterans adjust while collaborating with community organizations like Meals on Wheels.
“What we do is we will feed them until they get back on their feet. Once they get back on their feet. They’re out of our program,” said Cagle. “Anybody who’s 59 years of age and younger, falls through the cracks, so they are not eligible for that program. So, what we’ve done is we have actually contracted with meals on wheels in the individual counties that we serve.”
Lubbock Veterans of Foreign Wars Leaders said veterans in the community could benefit from signing up for the program.
“Meals for Vets is really that opportunity for these veterans to get that nutritional value,” said Lubbock VFW Commander Benny Guerrero. “So that they can, you know, make keep themselves healthy and help on the road to recovery.”
If you’re interested in getting involved with the program, you can visit Honor Veterans Now online.