Veterans Facing Hunger at Home
Correy and Melissa are parents to three very happy children. Octavius is 10, he’s the tough guy with a heart of gold, always standing up for the little guy. Tatiana is 8, she’s a bookworm. Ledanian is 4, he’s the outdoorsy one already obsessed with the natural world at his age. Melissa works full-time at a local factory making and sanding cabinets. Correy is a veteran who served in four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Until recently, Correy and Melissa were doing all right financially. There was always food on the table and the kids had what they needed for school. Then the daycare where their kids went after school was shut down. They couldn’t find any new childcare in their small town of Cokato, Minn. As a last resort, Correy quit his job to take care of the kids and the family is getting by on Melissa’s salary alone.
The transition to life on one income has been difficult and the guarantee of food on the table isn’t always there. “We went from being comfortable to, ‘Oh, my God. I don’t even know if we’re going to be able to pay rent, I mean, let alone get groceries.’” Melissa shares.
They know the situation is only temporary, until their youngest Ledanian, is ready for school or they find child-care, so they’re making the most of the situation.
Correy is using any free time throughout his days with the kids to dive into a project he’s passionate about as a veteran. Since his four deployments, Correy has seen many of his friends and fellow veterans struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome). His compassion for this group and new circumstances have inspired him to start a non-profit organization to take veterans on outdoor experiences to help them work through trauma by spending time with their families and other veterans in the great outdoors.
This opportunity to support his fellow veterans is truly inspiring. But, unfortunately, this endeavor doesn’t help put food on the table. Sometimes Correy would skip meals all day to make sure his three kids were fed. “Being in the military for as long as I have, I’m so used to going without food. I can go without a meal all day and I’ll be fine. It’s saving it for the kids.” Correy and Melissa decided to reach out for help. With the help of Second Harvest Heartland, they applied for SNAP (food stamps) to give them a little extra, temporary help each month for food.
“With SNAP,” Correy recalls, “it made it a little bit easier to transition because then we knew we had some money coming in for our food.”
“I wasn’t panicked about the food.” Melissa says. “I was panicked about everything else.”
We believe no one should hungry. This Veterans Day, we encourage you to think about families like Correy’s and veterans just like him that continue to give back while struggling to provide for themselves and their families. In the households we serve, more than 18 percent have at least one member who is a veteran or actively deployed.
Learn more about how you can help today.
Correy’s story was collected in collaboration with No Kid Hungry.