Food insecurity impacting over 25% of military personnel, study finds

Nov 10, 2023, 11:21 AM | Updated: 12:36 pm

George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City is pictured on Fri...

George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, May 30, 2014. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid controversy on Friday. (Hugh Carey, Deseret News)

(Hugh Carey, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — More than a quarter of enlisted active-duty military personnel experience some degree of food insecurity according to a report from Blue Star Families.

Former Executive Director at the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, Terry Schow, said he understands why many are facing food insecurity. Especially with the rising costs of food. 

“The military pay has been beefed up a little bit over the past several years. And of course, everybody in the military either gets housing on base or they get a housing allowance,” said Schow. “And in many cases, they get an allowance for food. But sometimes, some of the lower ranking folks may struggle, particularly if you’re a family.”

Schow said the pay for service members could be increased.

“I know in the past, there were service members who had to be on food stamps. And no one ever defending this country should ever have to be on public assistance in any form.”

More rising costs impacting military personnel

Schow said food isn’t the only area where rising costs are likely to be impacting military service personnel. 

“When you move, the cost of you getting in other places [falls] on you. And the cost of housing has got kind of ridiculous.”

Schow also noted that military housing is in short supply and many people are on waiting lists. 

Taking care of military personnel isn’t just about giving them more money, said Schow. Many Vet Centers are understaffed, making it difficult for them to provide adequate care, he said.

“VA medical centers have social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists. Then there’s something called the Vet Centers. “

According to Schow, Vet centers were opened in the 70s to help combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. They have since expanded the mission now they have groups and family groups as well. However, Vet Centers are understaffed making it difficult for them to provide adequate care.

“Folks that are serving… it’s a sacrifice. Not only in terms of their personal freedoms…remember, everybody in the military is considered to be on-duty 24 hours a day,” he said adding that some service members have been deployed several times.

Schow ended with a final message.

“Thanks to those who have served and their families and I think that pretty well says it.”

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Food insecurity impacting over 25% of military personnel, study finds