Thursday, November 18, 2021

Advocates Call for ‘urgent’ Action to End Military, Veteran Food Insecurity; Thousands of Military Families Struggle with Food Insecurity, Some Troops are Driven to Suicide by Hunger, Experts Say

Advocates call for ‘urgent’ action to end military, veteran food insecurity:
Homeless and foraging for food, Navy veteran Tim Keefe said his condition “devolved into that of a cave man,” when he fell onto hard times because of a work-related injury after he left the service. Each month, he hitchhiked 25 miles each way to a food bank, where he could fill his backpack with enough food for two weeks.
“When you’ve gone a couple days without food, your whole being cries out for it in a desperation I can’t explain,” he said, the day before Veterans Day, testifying during a hearing about hunger among military and veterans before the the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. Because of work requirement rules, he only qualified for three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Advocates urged lawmakers to take action to address problems of food insecurity in the military and veteran communities.
“Your leadership and that of the administration and agency officials is urgently needed to chart a different course,” said Mia Hubbard, vice president of programs at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “Military and veteran families have been allowed to go hungry on your watch.
“Your inaction has allowed this situation to persist for years and to get worse over the course of the pandemic.” --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Thousands of military families struggle with food insecurity:
It's a hidden crisis that has existed for years inside one of the most well-funded institutions on the planet and has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 160,000 active-duty military members are having trouble feeding their families.
That estimate by Feeding America, which coordinates the work of more than 200 food banks around the country, underscores how long-term food insecurity has extended into every aspect of American life, including the military.
The exact scope of the problem is a topic of debate, due to a lack of formal study. But activists say it has existed for years and primarily affects junior-level enlisted service members — ranks E1 to E4 in military parlance — with children.
"It's a shocking truth that's known to many food banks across the United States," said Vince Hall, Feeding America's government relations officer. "This should be the cause of deep embarrassment."
The group estimates that 29% of troops in the most junior enlisted ranks faced food insecurity during the previous year.
"It is what it is," said James Bohannon, 34, a Naval E4 (petty officer third class) in San Diego who relies on food assistance to keep his two daughters fed. --->READ MORE HERE
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Some troops are driven to suicide by hunger, experts say:
One of the biggest problems among U.S. troops and veterans, rising suicides, is made worse by another growing scourge in the ranks: hunger.
That was the conclusion experts delivered to a House Agriculture subcommittee in a hearing Wednesday on the eve of Veterans Day.
“Veterans dealing with very low food security have an almost four-fold increase in odds of suicidal ideation,” Nipa Kamdar, a health sciences specialist, told the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations.
Likewise, Mia Hubbard, vice president of programs at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, testified that hungry troops and veterans are more likely to take their own lives.
“Responding to food insecurity is a critical action we can take to address the crisis of increasing rates of military suicide,” Hubbard testified.
The Biden administration, too, acknowledged earlier this month that hunger in the services and among veterans is a contributing factor in the rising rates of suicide in those communities.
“Reducing the likelihood that an individual will experience a suicidal crisis requires addressing the factors — such as increased financial strain, lack of housing, food insecurity, unemployment, and legal issues — that may contribute to or increase risk for suicide,” the White House said in a Nov. 2 statement articulating the administration’s approach to the military suicide problem. --->READ MORE HERE
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