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Veterans helping veterans feed their families

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The Chattanooga Vet Center is where hundreds of veterans go to receive counseling services, but this holiday season it will also be a place where veterans can get extra food to feed their families.

"Veterans giving back to veterans," said Vet Center Manager Harry Irvin, "That's the main purpose."
     
While you don't have to be a veteran to make a food donation at the Vet Center, Harry Irvin notices how successful the donation drive is when veterans know they're helping each other.

"A lot of veterans are less likely to receive or ask for help," said Irvin, "But coming from another veteran it seems to bring out a better rapport, relationship."
     
The food drive just kicked off this week and Irvin wants to see donations fill up the hallways and extra storage rooms at the Vet Center.
     
Family counselors will divide up the food donations and pass them out based on a veteran's or a family's need.

"We have all the way from WWII veterans still coming in," Irvin said, "All the way up from Afghanistan who just recently returned home."    
     
Last month the Vet Center served more than 650 veterans and many of the employees, like Irvin, are veterans themselves.

"I served in the Army reserves, I went to Iraq, to Baghdad during the surge," Irvin said, "I left my family and children at home."

Irvin said many local veterans go to the Vet Center looking for help because the transition back to the life they left behind isn't always easy.

"You've been gone for a year and a half plus so things have moved on with other people's lives," Irvin said, "And you have to play catch up for some time."

The Vet Center, located at 951 Eastgate Loop Road, Suite #300, is collecting any non-perishable food item up until December 19th. Items can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Any other donation items can be dropped off at the Community Kitchen or the Samaritan Center.
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