Members of veterans group look out for each other
Veterans too often have significant struggles after their service, and many feel they don't get enough help from the government they served in.
A local organization is trying to fill the gap for vets in transition.
They're not yet a non-profit organization and sometimes they struggle to pay the bills.
But the group operating out of a strip mall on Tudor Road is determined to make a difference for as many veterans as possible.
Vets Helping Vets started a year ago, providing meals, clothing, transportation and referrals for people struggling in their post-military lives.
"We just kind of walk through with them and tell them, ‘You can do it, we won't leave you alone, but you can bring yourself back up, you know. You can and you will feel like somebody else -- or somebody -- once again,’ ” said Calista Anderson, president of Vets Helping Vets. “Because so many of them have been kicked around and people just don't care. You'd be surprised at some of the people that say, no, we don't care."
Anderson, the wife of an active duty Army officer, is on a mission to serve those who have served their country.
The group has survived on donations so far, with low-key solicitations at tables in such venues as Walgreen’s and Costco.
During one cash-poor period, its electricity was shut off.
"So we sit in the dark for almost two weeks. But we kept our store open and we were just refusing to lay down and die. We just kept struggling and marching on, and we raised it up, and now we're back in business, without having to shop with flashlights."
Nick Fournier, an Army veteran who recently arrived in Alaska, says there's definitely a need for a group like Vets Helping Vets, given the range of problems facing too many veterans.
"It's out of proportion, you know. There's too many homeless veterans, veterans in need. So something's wrong."
And those who get help often turn right around and give it, as so-called “volunteer employees” for the group.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to help other people -- my fellow brothers and sisters," said John W. Steve Jr., an Army veteran.
At Vets Helping Vets, every day is Veterans Day.