Veteran Humbled and Motivated by Hunger
When Tim Moore walks into the community room at Veteran’s and Community Housing, the energy changes, it becomes electric. The men and women in the room, all residents of this housing complex, stop what they’re doing and turn their attention to him. Moore is one of those rare human beings who can exude confidence and charm without coming across as conceited. When he shakes your hand, he looks you in the eyes and his whole face seems to smile. When he speaks, in the smooth baritone of a radio host, he is thoughtful and articulate. When he tells you about himself, he is humble and self-deprecating. He even jokes about the boot he wears on his right foot—the result of a serious leg injury.
You would never guess by looking at him in his finely pressed, buttoned-down shirt and jeans, that he used to sleep under a park bench or was once so hungry and hopeless that he considered suicide. You’d never guess because Tim Moore is a very different man today than he was just eight years ago.
Moore grew up in Massachusetts. He moved to Minnesota 25 years ago looking for a change and to be closer to friends. He had a good job, he owned a home in Minneapolis and a car. By most people’s standards, Moore had a nice life. Yet, he still felt like he was missing something.
“I don’t know what I was looking for,” he admits. “Maybe it was that esprit de corps, that comradery and fellowship that comes from belonging someplace.”
So, in 2004, Moore joined the Army National Guard. Two years later, he was deployed to Iraq, where he spent 15 months. They were the longest 15 months of his life. When he returned home, after suffering significant injuries to his leg and shoulder, he began experiencing PTSD.
“An outreach worker with the Dorothy Day Center found me under a park bench,” Moore said. “He convinced me to check into a mental health facility in St. Cloud. I had to be convinced because I didn’t think I needed help. I was dealing with a different reality, like most veterans, that didn’t fit here. You’re on high alert all the time. That’s what it’s like for veterans.”
After Moore was discharged from the facility in St. Cloud, he moved into temporary housing while he waited for an apartment at Veterans & Community Housing, an alcohol-free, drug-free housing environment located on the Minneapolis VA Health Care System campus.
Samantha Stinnett, site manager for the building, said the housing is meant to be a haven for the community, where veterans can get the help they need to integrate themselves back into society. To that end, the community offers many resources to help residents. In June, after a presentation by Second Harvest Heartland, it began participating in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. The program delivers a box of nutritious food each month to eligible low-income seniors 60 years and over through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors.
“The food that’s delivered is very good, Moore said. “It cuts down on food costs for us, it’s nutritious. For those of us who have mobility issues, we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to get to the store. Everyone who participates in it says the same thing: it really helps.”
Today, while Moore still deals with leg problems from the injuries he sustained in Iraq, he is a much stronger, more hopeful man. He is also, despite his disabilities, an active man. When he’s not wearing a boot on his foot, Moore volunteers at the Minnehaha Food Bank. He’s an actor who has performed with a local theater group. He’s going back to school. He’s participated in a mentoring program that has led to multiple speaking engagements to help other veterans.
“Hunger will humble you and motivate you,” he said. “I’m in a better place today because of the staff and resources here.” Moore said. “I tell people, all you have to do is want it. A lot of veterans, we won’t ask for help. We have our self-respect. We have our pride. Here, I know I’m never alone. The staff always keeps an eye open.”
We believe no one should go hungry. This Veterans Day, we encourage you to think about neighbors like Tim and veterans just like him who might not know where their next meal is coming from.