Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives

Homeless Veterans

This is not a topic that I really know much about and goodness knows, I can’t understand.

I recently taught a group of veterans (all had been recently homeless, but thankfully are no longer) to make a nice dinner. They made ribs with homemade BBQ sauce, 2 spice rubs, baked fries and zesty cole slaw. It was so much fun for all of us and it was hours after class before I could get off cloud 9.

I asked about Lily Pad Military Installations, they asked about protein, I asked about why they all smoked, they asked about the best carbohydrates. It all worked some how because, as we all agreed with a big smile, it truly takes a village to support all of us.

We picked out the next meal to prepare-they said anything was fine as long as there was meat…Ha! They also know that I believe that vegetables are the key to health and since they all had thirds of cole slaw, we’re on the same page.

One person (not a Vet) said, all we need is a beer or a nice bottle of wine, and ALL the others said AT THE SAME TIME, “No we don’t!” I asked if it was ok if I asked a personal question and again, they all said yes without hesitation. What is it about alcohol and veterans? (I suspected I knew the answer but didn’t want to presume.) Simply put, it’s a short-term coping mechanism with not so good long-term results.

After class I thought about these men and can’t even imagine any one of them homeless. I just can’t picture it. They’re all nice men, more than willing to help-all jumped in to help clean the kitchen-and so happy to be part of a group; from the camaraderie of the military to the camaraderie of the kitchen. I truly believe that the kitchen can be healing. I also truly believe that our military personal should be treated with compassion and respect. I know we all believe this. How do we make it happen?

My only answer is to take it one person at a time. Take a group of people without homes and they are ‘the homeless.’ Too much for us to wrap our heads around. We often feel we can’t help as it’s too big of a problem. Take it one person at a time, and learn their name, and we feel we can help-because we can!

I’ll tell you more when I learn more. Next month I imagine I’ll see the same group of veterans and hopefully more. I’ll tell you their stories. One story at a time, we all can help.


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