Bean's Café honors Alaskan veterans
In recognition of Veterans Day, Bean's Café honored the men and women who dedicated a portion of their lives to serve our country in the Armed Forces.
The annual event served about a dozen of the potential hundreds of veterans that frequent Bean's Café. Each veteran was seated at the patriotic-themed head table, recognized and given a few donated gifts.
"We were fortunate enough to receive a donation from the family of a person who passed away who had been a veteran and was a collector of different items." Executive Director Lisa Sauder said, "We were able to secure some winter clothing items that will be of great benefit to our veterans and keep them warm."
The event gave many veterans a chance to feel gratitude for all the years they put in.
"It means a lot being a Vietnam vet because we were not accepted when we came back from Vietnam," Marine Rafael M. said. "We all got drafted by the Marine Corps, [and] my two brothers got killed in Vietnam. I went in 1971, I made it alive, though, that's my story."
Other veterans appreciate the safe setting Bean's Café offers.
"I'm here for a short period of time and I don't drink or drug and this is basically the safest place for me to be," Retired Army engineer Tom John said, "That's basically what happens out there, people want you to drink and drug with them and I don't need or want that."
While the mood was upbeat, volunteers couldn't be helped but overwhelmed by the conditions some veterans live in.
"It's sad because these people, regardless of what their circumstances are now, at one point were ready to die, and now they're living on the street," volunteer Karen Trainor said. "I mean these are people I may have served with at one time. It breaks my heart."
In reality, a lot of veterans don't know what benefits are available to them. Most applications are now done online and many older veterans don't have access or the knowledge to apply online. Instead of asking for help, many choose to stay quiet and go without. Awareness and taking the time to help is key to helping veterans get the help some desperately need.
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