From drinking coffee and sharing stories to filling pantries and finding jobs, a group of military veterans in Iowa is lending a hand to those in need.
It all started with a group of Vietnam Veterans looking to share stories over coffee. But as their group progressed, the veterans realized that their group could lend more than a listening ear, and so the Freedom Foundation was born.
Located in store front building on Center Point Road, near Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the foundation now provides support by giving veterans a place to share stories, fill their pantry, and even find a job.
“Our food pantry last year in 2019 we distributed over 48,000 pounds of food to our veterans we gave them steaks, pork roast, chicken, bread, butter, milk, eggs, and all the food that comes in here,” said Chuck Elias, Board President of the Freedom Foundation to KRDO News.
The goal of the organization is to offer assistance in areas where the VA may fall short, ensuring no veterans fall through the cracks.
“When we find a veteran that is homeless and unemployed we put them in a motel we get them a part-time job,” said Elias. “Then we move them into a full-time job and then we get them permanent housing.”
“They’ll sit here and talk about things that they don’t talk about anywhere else because one vet to another they understand the stories,” added Roger Jensen, a Vietnam vet, and Board Member of the Freedom Foundation.
“They understand where you’re coming from. You tell a normal civilian some of the war stories, they don’t believe you anyway.”
Now, the group is launching a new branch of their operation – a “one-of-a-kind” military themed bar, complete with military museum.
“Its a one-of-a-kind military theme bar here in Cedar Rapids, called Foxhole Charlie,” said Elias. “In the back part of the building, we have the twelve thousand square feet Max Betenbender Military Exhibition Hall. So I’ve got bombs, machine guns and jeeps and trucks; an ambulance, motorcycles.”
“I would encourage you to, if you know a veteran that needs help, give us a call,” said Elias who says it doesn’t matter where the veteran is from, the Freedom Foundation is here to help.