Veterans Are Going Hungry, New Study Shows: The Injustice Behind Food Insecurity

news
photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos

As the daughter of a waitress and a maintenance worker, and the youngest of ten kids, food insecurity was something we faced every day. If it weren’t for food stamps and the free lunch program at school, there would have been many days in which I wouldn’t have had a meal. Two months after 9/11, when I enlisted in the Army, it became abundantly clear that I wouldn’t have to worry about where my next meal would come from. Three squares a day, right? However, once I left the service, many of those same insecurities I faced before resurfaced as realities again.


A recent study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition titled “Food insecurity among veterans of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” by the University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health discusses food uncertainty among our veterans when they return home. Bottom line: The numbers are staggering.

According to the study “over one in four veterans reported past-year food insecurity.” That is nearly 27 percent among veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, which is dramatically higher than the national average of 14.5 percent. The study also found that veterans who are young, not married/partnered, not employed or have lower income, have children, and leave the service with a lower military pay grade are more likely to struggle with obtaining regular meals.

To enlist in the military you must have a high school diploma or GED. This is a requirement. We walk into the military with an education and gain skills that can translate into employment outside of the service. In addition, the character of your service should count for your ability to make a commitment to something greater than yourself; a trait that employers are beginning to recognize to a higher degree in more recent years.

Today there are many organizations that have pledged to hire more veterans such as the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of 150 employers who want to hire veterans. There are even more organizations that have cropped up to help veterans gain employment like Hirepurpose.

This study points to a trench in how we are supporting our veterans when they prepare to return home. While serving, at 19, I had to ensure that the color I decided to dye my hair and which purse to carry was within regulation. Through regulations I learned how my platoon sergeant determined if I was eligible for promotion to E-4. These regulations guide all decision-making through the chain of command. So if regulations in the military range from what seems mundane to the momentous, then why isn’t there a regulation to support managing the transition from military service to the civilian world? The trench.

Eligible veterans have access to the G.I. Bill, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, and other job training programs. But many veterans don’t have the support network or resources upon leaving the service to start utilizing the benefits they earned while fighting for our country. Establishing a robust set of regulations to help members of the military to transition into job training programs, universities, and other services that are needed, such as connecting with their local VA center, will set our veterans up for success when they leave the service.

With over a quarter of our veterans struggling to put food on their tables, it is time to ensure that the three squares a day don’t stop when our boots no longer march into battle. It cannot be this way.

We are trained to leave no one behind and that we are only as strong as our weakest person. But any veteran who is weak due to an issue relating to hunger is a sign of a lack of strength in all of us to deter it from ever happening in the first place.

Aryanna Hunter is an Iraq War veteran, mother of two, member of The Truman National Security Project, President of One Push Up, a non-profit organization designed to empower veterans out of poverty, and writes from her blog A Broad Sense.

President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.

The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.

Read More Show Less

If the Pentagon had to take Consumer Math class in high school, they'd flunk.

The U.S. military—correction, the U.S. taxpayer—is spending more money to buy fewer weapons. The reason? Poor acquisition practices, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"DOD's 2018 portfolio of major weapon programs has grown in cost by $8 billion, but contains four fewer systems than last year," GAO found.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on RFE/RL: Afghanistan.

KABUL -- An air strike has mistakenly killed at least nine Afghan police officers, including a commander, during a battle with the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand, local officials say.

They said that 14 officers were also wounded in the May 16 strike in the Nahr-e Saraj district , which is located outside the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army photo)

Chuck Norris contains multitudes.

He's an Oklahoman and an Air Force vet, an actor and martial artist. The intensity of his badassery formed the basis of one of the earliest and most ubiquitous internet memes. He's a fictional member of Delta Force and a Texas Ranger, his beard a source of such virile endurance and strength that it makes Samson's biblical mane look like a bouquet of hobo pubes.

Now, Norris will live forever as the ultimate instrument of righteousness: an M1 Abrams tank.

Read More Show Less
Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (center). Photo: Task & Purpose.

CONCORD, N.H. — The U.S. Army signed onto a partnership with the state of New Hampshire on Wednesday in the hopes of sharpening its recruiting edge.

Read More Show Less