Utica, NY (PRWEB) April 18, 2013
Feed Our Vets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stocking food pantries across the nation in the battle against hunger among U.S. veterans, is advocating increased public support and long-term planning to meet the basic needs of military men and women who are homeless, living in shelters, or unable to adequately feed their families.
About 60,000 veterans sleep on the streets or in homeless shelters every night, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Feed Our Vets estimates that an additional 70,000 or more are without sufficient resources to adequately feed their families each day.
“We are working tirelessly to help the American government and citizens understand the critical needs of these veterans – not just for health and mental health care, which is usually what makes the news, but also for the vital basic needs of food and shelter,” said Richard Synek, the founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets.
The agency recently set up an information booth in the middle of New York City’s Times Square and discovered that most Americans do not realize that tens of thousands of veterans and their spouses and children are going hungry.
“We must do everything possible to heighten awareness of the needs if we’re going to be effective at meeting the needs,” said Synek.
The IOM report states that 44 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – which include greater percentages of women, parents of young children, and reserve and National Guard troops than in past conflicts – reported difficulties after they returned. A significant number have suffered traumatic brain injuries and shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance misuse or abuse, which are factors that contribute to joblessness and homelessness.
The report also urged federal agencies to start forecasting the resources and programs that will be needed long-term for veterans, since previous wars have demonstrated that veterans’ needs peak several decades after their war service.
“It’s critical that we assess future resource needs,” agreed Synek. “Even if we could adequately feed every hungry veteran and their family tonight, that doesn’t address the needs of veterans as they age or of those who will be deployed in the future. We must increase assistance today, but also recognize that the needs will be critical in the future if long-term solutions are not developed and implemented.”
The report was requested by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector and the public.
Feed Our Vets operates two food pantries, in Utica and Watertown, and runs a mobile food pantry to help veterans in underserved regions of upstate New York. The organization also partners with food pantries nationwide to make sure that veterans have access to sufficient food for themselves and their families, including offering pickup times designated just for veterans