Veteran Tonya Palmer of Mechanicsville, Va., was getting used to not having enough food to eat. On the day she applied for the VFW’s Unmet Needs grant, she was down to a few slices of cheese.
Palmer joined the Army at 33 years old, just after the September 11, 2001 attacks. After completing basic training in Ft. Jackson, S.C., she moved on to Georgia to learn satellite maintenance and control. Soon after, Palmer was injured during training. She suffered physically and emotionally after breaking both her legs, damaging her lower back and developing Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)
“I have suppressed much of that time. But now, 15 years later, I still suffer every day. It affects every aspect of my life. I joined to protect my family and country, and when I left the military I was a private first class,” Palmer said.
Even with her 100% rating for service-connected disability, the loss of pay after being laid off in 2016 made it impossible for her and her fiancé to keep up their finances.
Palmer couldn’t buy groceries. The food banks could get her by but did not provide any fresh food. She searched online for services that could possibly help her and found the VFW Unmet Needs program.
“The application process was very simple. I filled out the information requested by the VFW and a few days later I got a call telling me what they could give me. They asked if I would be interested and I said yes. A few weeks later a gift card for Walmart came in the mail,” she explained.
Finally, Palmer and her fiancé could afford to buy meat and vegetables. The help from the VFW grant was a catalyst that got them going in the right direction.
“We got fresh food and then my fiancé’s hours picked up again. Thanks to the grant from the VFW I was able to work out the financial situation I was in and am now on my way to being able to support myself. We are still renting, but we’re in a house and moving forward in our lives.
“This has shown me that I am not alone and that our country recognizes the importance of my service,” Palmer concluded.
Learn more about the VFW’s Unmet Needs program.