COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a service at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia that many veterans may not even know exist. The food pantry at the Dorn VA started as a drawer in Jeffrey Soots' office and now has served more than 1,000 veterans at the hospital.
"Sometimes the basic necessities is what they need," Soots said. "And when they have to think about where they're going to get their next meal, that might not allow them to focus on their healthcare. They're more worried about how they're getting through the next day."
Veterans and now Dorn VA mail room employees Chad Wright and Daryl Lofton have each tapped into the VA's service during rough times. Wright struggled once leaving the Army in the '90's before making his way to the Dorn VA. He supports a large family with five children at home.
"It was a long road I was injured. I hitchhiked around the country for a couple years, lived in my car for a couple years," Wright said.
Lofton was injured in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. He broke his back and his shoulder, and says he's just lucky to be alive.
"I was walking home, coming from doing my laundry, and a tree," Lofton said. "I woke up the next day, [and] our coworkers were holding my hand after surgery."
The food pantry has helped both Wright and Lofton make it through tough financial times.
"It's services that you really wouldn't believe that's available for you."
Out of more than 150 VA's nationwide, only 15 have food pantries at the facility. If you'd like to contribute to the food pantry, contact Volunteer Services at the Dorn VA by clicking here.