KALISPELL – Our veterans are to thank for their selfless service in defending the freedoms we hold dear.
Montana has one of the largest populations of veterans per capita and in this week’s Salute to Service, a northwest Montana food pantry is dedicated to helping them readjust back into civilian life after their service in the military.
The Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down and Food Pantry helps low-income, homeless and at-risk Flathead veterans assimilate back into civilian life by raising awareness and advocating for their unmet needs.
The pantry makes sure local veterans plates aren’t empty by distributing Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes and with the holiday season around the corner their mission to feed veterans doesn’t stop with providing a warm meal — they also help veterans find a warm bed, clothing, blankets, footwear and jobs and counseling.
By building self-esteem, the Pantry’s founders say their mission is to extend a hand up not a handout.
“One of the first things as a helping hand up is to make sure they’re not hungry and cold and then after you address those first basic needs then you can look for long-term solutions to their problems,” said Linda Erickson Director of Programs.
“They need a lot of help. In the service everything is done for you when you get out you’re on your own and they don’t they don’t pre indoctrinate you back into civilian life,” said Erickson.
The Veterans Food Pantry serves about 300 veterans every month 12 months of the year.
-Nicole Miller reporting for MTN News