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Former Armed Serviceman Shares Two Tales of Homeless Veterans

Mohammed Salarbux of the Huffingtonpost shared his experiences as a National Guard and the time he spends on a food pantry. One of his earlier realizations about being in the armed services came from a suicide attempt by a fellow National Guard recruit in a bathroom next to his stall. He said the incident taught him, “Our armed services are just like most of us: haunted by emotions from our past that sometimes morph into actions that can leave our loved ones puzzled.”

Unexpectedly while serving in the food pantry years later, he’d have a few more interesting life stories from other veterans who unluckily ended up homeless and needy. He said that one of the most noteworthy visitors that their soup kitchen had was a veteran they only know of as Steve. It was just last summer when Steve started visiting their pantry, he recalled. During the man’s first visit, he was limping and barely able to walk. The first thing the man did was to find the nearest chair available and rest his battered feet which was unlike other visitors who would come and feed their empty stomachs first. Upon close inspection, Salarbux noticed that the man appears to have walked for miles with nothing but worn-out plastic slippers. When they attended to the man, the man begged for any used pair of shoes.

Fortunately, the pantry has a pair of old shoes which was donated to them. Steve’s eyes welled up in tears upon receiving the shoes followed by relentless thanks and praises. Since then, Steve has been occasionally appearing at the food pantry.

One cold morning around Christmas, Steve arrived at the food pantry wearing several layers of shirts. Salarbux came up to him that day and asked Steve, “How do you keep warm? Do you have a jacket? Do you have at least a blanket?”

In response, Steve pulled up his shirts and said, “All I have is this plastic under my clothes.” That day, Steve got an early Christmas gift of a new winter coat and a new blanket.

Apart from Steve, the food pantry located at second floor of a building in the Pine Hill’s area of Orlando has another veteran guest. The man’s name is Tony, a 15-year veteran, who fell through the cracks due to domestic problems.

Presently, Tony is receiving livelihood training assistance from the Veterans Association. The organization is funding his studies to become an electrician. However in his current state, he finds it difficult to come up with the fare to get to his classes. Momentarily, he has been continually searching for a job in local restaurants or businesses but not one has even given him the chance to face an interview.

“A sad reality of our system today is that, when someone falls through the cracks, there are no safety nets for them, so that his/her life just continues to spiral downward out of control,” Salarbux discussed what Tony’s story tell us about.

He explained that the story he wrote about the lives of this two men do not intend to put into bad light the military or any agencies. He wishes that the story of the two veterans will “touch others and move them to be more conscious about donating to their local food pantry. Most of us could easily go through our closet and realize there are many things we no longer need. Old shoes or clothing sitting around maybe donated to others who will be more than happy to have our discarded clothing.”

He said if no one has donated that old pair of shoes the day that Steve came to the food pantry; the man wouldn’t have walked out of there happy and hopeful.