Bexar County is home to over 153,000 veterans…the most densely populated veteran community in Texas. Nearly one is seven households served by the San Antonio Food Bank includes a family member who is a current or former military member. Shayna and her husband are both veterans, they have two boys, ages 3 and 4 years old and are one of the households we serve in our community.
“My husband is 35 years old, he is 100% disabled and dealing with combat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),” Shayna says, “the transition from active military to veteran status has been very difficult.” In February, her husband was officially released from the military and was left with little benefits, no job, and no home. They were lost and didn’t know what they were going to do. Studies show local veterans in the 18-34 age group experience unemployment at twice the rate of veterans in other age groups. “Many people don’t understand,” Shayna says, “in the military you have it all provided for you, but once you are out, you really have to find out what benefits you qualify for and don’t.”
With her husband and sons dealing with health issues, Shayna needed to be in a location that was military friendly and had a good medical standing. “My oldest son just had his feeding tube recently taken out and my husband has chronic nerve damage,” she says, “San Antonio had everything, medical care, military background and we found Operation Homefront.” With assistance from Operation Homefront, Shayna and her family were able to temporarily secure a fully furnished apartment. Though a stable living environment has established, there is still the future to think about.
Utilizing his GI Bill, Shayna’s husband is a attend schooling in Dallas to receive his Associates Degree through an 8-month fast-track program for veterans. Shayna admires him for attending school and trying to better himself for the family, though on most days he is in pain. There are weekends he makes it home, but even when is home he is physically incapable of taking care of their children. “I turn into a caregiver for him as well,” she says.
Taking a deep breath, Shayna shakes her head softly as her children play in the nearby room. “No man or woman, who would sacrifice their life for this country, should have to worry about putting food on the table,” she says, “nor worry about either paying medical bills or giving your child dinner that night. Veterans deserve so much more.”