Meals for Vets serves as the catalyst for communities across America to honor our nation’s courageous, vulnerable and struggling young veterans by eliminating their hunger. Our mission is to provide consistent access to healthy, nutritious meals for veterans under age 60, who served honorably and are struggling financially.
The Older Americans Act of 1965 provides funding for folks 60+ to get meals, but if you’re younger than 60 you will get turned away from these meal programs. This is the basic problem we are addressing in our Meals for Vets program.
We believe that the hunger so many veterans currently endure is unacceptable. We are stepping up to meet this urgent need―focusing on veterans under age 60, the population with the most limited access to consistent, wholesome, life-sustaining food.
Our nation’s recently discharged service members often find themselves reentering communities without the structured support systems they once knew and relied upon in the armed forces. HVN believes “it’s an honor” to provide these veterans with valuable life-sustaining, nutritious hot meals.
The Facts and Stats
Key issues further intensifying food insecurity among veterans under 60 and their families:
- Hunger – An estimated 2 million veterans battle food insecurity.
- Unemployment – While the unemployment rate for veterans of all ages tracks at about 5.3 (below the overall U.S. level), the rate shoots up to 7.2% for those younger veterans who served on active duty after September 2011.
- Poverty – Almost 1.5 million veterans live in poverty in the United States.
- Disabilities – 25% of recent veterans reported service-connected disabilities in 2011.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – 1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD. And veterans account for 20 percent of U.S. suicides.
- Isolation – For veterans struggling with combat trauma and other issues, 2 out of 3 marriages will fail.
- Homelessness – One third of our nation’s homeless are veterans.
- Lost Records – The U.S. Army’s failure to create and maintain adequate field records has complicated and drastically delayed the benefits claim process for thousands of veterans since the Gulf War in 1991.
- Suicide – From 2001 to 2014, the Veterans Administration found that suicides among U.S. adult civilians increased 23 percent while veteran suicides increased 32 percent — meaning that the risk of suicide is significantly greater for veterans than civilians (after controlling for age and gender).
Numbers Tell Their Stories
- 21 million veterans in America (9 percent of the adult population).
- 25% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan report problems being able to acquire food for themselves or their families (2015 study published in Public Health Nutrition). With 2.5 million who served in Afghanistan and Iraq that means 625,000 are struggling with food insecurity.
- 14% of general population is food insecure.
Sources: U.S Department of Labor (2014), U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Face the Facts: George Washington University, Hunger Solutions.org, National Veterans Foundation, PTSD Foundation of America, ProPublica.org, ABCNews.com
Tom Wollny, P.E.
Tom has been dedicated to serving people in need for as long as he can remember. He is a proud Korean War veteran who initially used his Air Force training to maintain USAF radar units. After leaving the service, he pursued his engineering degree, became a Professional Engineer (P.E.), and applied his lifelong love of electronics and expertise. Horrified by the devastating toll landmines were taking on our troops and innocent civilians, he diligently studied, experimented and searched to discover a more effective system to detect these malicious mines and prevent such needless death and suffering.
Tom’s world-changing invention is recognized as the most advanced landmine detection system available and is now being used for humanitarian de-mining and to protect our armed forces worldwide—and it’s saving hundreds of thousands of lives and limbs. Today, Tom is leading HONOR VETERANS NOW in addressing the heartbreaking stories of hunger and struggle of those who sacrificed and served.
Tom’s invention is saving lives and limbs of our service men and women and civilians every day. Care.org reports that there are “an estimated 110 million landmines still in the ground.”
John Schrock, Jr.
After earning his B.S. in mechanical engineering at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas, John served as a reserve officer in the U.S. Army Security Agency. Since then, he has held management and executive leadership positions with Collins/Rockwell, Seco Computer Corporation, Navaco Labs, Gulfdale Properties and other companies. His professional and community experience includes service on the boards of several banks, corporations and nonprofits, including the McAllen Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs, the McAllen Medical Center, McAllen Economic Development Corporation, the University of Texas PA Foundation, and the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.
Erin has degrees in Management and Counseling which she earned from Sam Houston State University and Texas Woman’s University. In addition, she also received her MBA from the University of North Texas. Erin also worked as a Special Education teacher in Denton, Texas, for 12 years. At HVN, Erin puts her organizational and communication skills to good use in coordinating our effort to take care of the growing list of veterans who need hot meals. She loves going to movies with her husband and is very proud of her son who recently joined the U.S. Army. She also enjoys raising chickens and spending time with her 2 cats, Lolly and Snickers.
HONOR VETERANS NOW could not achieve our objectives without the partnership of feeding organizations, such as Meals on Wheels. Thanks to these alliances, we are strategically positioned to achieve bold, high-impact goals over the next five years as we identify key program priorities and build powerful operational alliances across Texas.