Assistance for military veterans running thin

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Military charities and donations have been dropping this year, according to the Beck Pride Center on the Arkansas State University campus. The Beck Pride Center, which provides rehabilitation services to injured combat veterans and their families, said the number of donations have dropped over the last few months, which may lead to some financial hardships for veterans.

"We're seeing that the organizations we've turned to in the past that have so generously helped us have not had funds. They've not been able to raise funds from community donors, from their annual fundraising projects," said Susan Tonymon, Director of the Beck Pride Center.

According to Tonymon, some charitable organizations in the past have donated money to veterans who were struggling to pay rent or for food. This year, she said, those organizations are providing assistance in the way of canned foods and other supplies.

"It breaks my heart when I can't find a service or resource for a combat veteran or their family in need," said Tonymon. "It's our responsibility to help these combat soldiers and their families return to civilian life, because they've done so much for us."

Tonymon said one of the hardships in dealing with injured veterans and other service members is that oftentimes they don't ask for help. She said their training always kicks in.

"Look beyond a confident appearance because they're trained to look confident," said Tonymon. "You might be at Kroger. You might be at some other place in the community, and that person may have just gotten back from combat. You may not recognize they're a combat veteran."

Jeremy Quador retired from the Army last year. He spent 15-years serving the country around the globe.

"I was actually in communications. I've been all over the world. Bosnia. Iraq and Afghanistan. 15 years in and I felt like it was time to get out because I had been away from my family for so long," said Quador. "Since I got married, I've only spent about four years of my life with my kids and my wife, so the rest of the time I was deployed or stationed somewhere they weren't able to go."

Quador said it took several months for him to find a job once he got out of the service. He said he's just one example of how difficult it can be for a veteran to find work.

"It's tough for a lot of us coming out of the military, within the last year or two years, to go out there and get the financial support," said Quador. "Sometimes you do have a very tough time finding jobs. If you're infantry for example, really once you get done with infantry school, what are you going to be able to do in the outside world?"

Quador said his Veteran's Affairs benefits have kicked in, but he waited nearly half a year before he got any income. His wife had to find another job.

"A lot of military veterans that come out have to look at odd and end jobs or just wherever they can get hired on at," said Quador. "It does make it tough. My wife has actually had to take a completely different job with some crazy hours just so we could try to pay bills."

When asked if soldiers are prepared to handle finances once they get out of the military or a warzone, Quador said it's tough to tell. He said finances were the last thing on his mind during his military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Part of it you can put on the veterans' shoulders because they realize, hey I'm getting out. Maybe you should have had a nest egg sitting aside to help you out," said Quador. "When you go for almost a year of not being employed, the nest egg runs out really quick."

Quador said he understood why many people can't donate to military charities.

"It was time to be with my family and be able to watch my family grow and watch my kids grow up instead of seeing them in pictures," said Quador. "You have a lot of them that are having trouble keeping food in the pantry, keeping food in the fridge and you're talking about families that have been military for 15 to 20 years."

"Once you get done with the warm wishes and how you doing, now you're back in the situation of okay. Now I got things I've got to take care of," said Quador.

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