Tomorrow is Veterans Day, a day to remember and thank the men and women who set aside their own wants and needs to defend others and fight for a free world. From the Greatest Generation to today’s young veterans just returning from the harsh deserts of the Middle East, we honor their service and look for ways to give back to those who have already given so much.
At The Salvation Army, we have a long history of serving soldiers on and off the battlefield – from our Donut Girls on the front lines of WWI to the Indiana’s Division’s Operation Compassion, which has sent almost 90,000 care packages to overseas troops since 2002.
When our military veterans return home, they often find themselves fighting a new battle. Building a “normal” life after the horrors of war can be challenging and, for some, it can prove too daunting a task to tackle on his or her own. That was the case for Dale, a veteran from Johnson County who discovered The Salvation Army and a path to rebuilding his life.
Dale walked into the food pantry at The Salvation Army Red Shield Center in Greenwood looking for a way to feed his teenage daughter and special-needs son. Like too many veterans, mental health struggles had led to unemployment and the loss of his home. While his children found temporary shelter with relatives, Dale was living in his car and trying to figure out how to put his life back together.
As a single father, Dale needed to find a home for his small family, a job for himself, and a way to pay off his accumulated debt. Making sure that his children were fed was a top priority, which is why he sought out The Salvation Army.
“Dale was very distraught, very overwhelmed,” remembers Salvation Army employee Dena Simpson. “He just didn’t know where to turn to.” Once staff learned of his situation, they immediately began the process of case management to help connect Dale with organizations that could address each of his needs.
Working with his Salvation Army caseworker, Dale found the mental health services that he needed and was able to address his crushing bills. The Salvation Army provided funds to pay for the first month’s rent in a new apartment, but just before Dale and his children were ready to move, they discovered that an unpaid utility bill might keep them from finally having a home of their own. With a little extra help from The Salvation Army, the debt was paid and the family could be together again.
The journey to stability and independence can be long and arduous, but it does not need to be taken alone. Dale’s decision to visit the Red Shield Center food pantry was the turning point in his personal struggle.
Dale’s story isn’t unique, but this Veterans Day we strive to recognize all those who have fought for freedom, while supporting the veterans who are fighting personal battles here at home. With great support from communities across Indiana and our cherished donors, we can continue to help struggling veterans find the peace they have earned.
Have a wonderful Veterans Day and remember to thank and pray for the vets in your life.