LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A group of Little Rock veterans hopes a large luncheon for their homeless comrades Thanksgiving Day turns into a lesson learned for the community.
The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association AR 7-1 and their families served a full holiday meal to those going through the St. Francis House re-entry program, which provides transitional housing for those who continue to fight their own battles back home.
“A lot of people will see veterans, and they’ll say, ‘Thank you for your service,'” said Vietnam veteran J.D. Martin between bites of his lunch. “But there are a lot of veterans out there who don’t have a home.”
Martin shared a table with some of his veteran friends who are members of the association. With full bellies, they got down to some of the real issues veterans have when re-entering society from education to mental health.
“They need to learn how to get out there and earn a living,” Martin said.
“The bad things that he had seen, that’s why he’s not with us today,” Waynetta Lloyd said.
Lloyd’s son killed himself after serving three tours in Iraq. She started the nonprofit, Mission 22, to spread awareness and provide resources to veterans with PTSD.
“Twenty-two vets every hour commit suicide and nobody cares,” she said.
These are several reasons why the association wants to do more to thank their fellow service men and women than feed them.
“They [society] need to work with them and trust them more,” Martin said.
“And they need to do it more often,” Lloyd said. “Not just once or twice a year. They need to really get involved with our veterans’ lives and their families’ lives.”
According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, nearly 250 homeless veterans live in Arkansas.
This is the third year this chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association has hosted Thanksgiving for homeless veterans. To learn more about the organization, visit its website and Facebook page.
Click here to find more information about the St. Francis House.