Former homeless veteran recounts how Coffee Bunker and BRRX4VETS got him off the streets

TULSA -- Memorial Day is about honoring fallen war heroes. But later this week, 2 Works For You is teaming up with several local businesses to honor the living heroes by giving Food 2 Veterans.

Proceeds will benefit the the Food Bank's veterans programs which include BRRX4VETS and The Coffee Bunker. The Coffee Bunker is a center that offers programs and support for veterans, and BRRX4VETS is a re-housing program funded by the Supportive Services for Veteran Families.

“When they signed those papers to join the service, they were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice,” Steve Lehto, a board member with the Coffee Bunker, said. “Many of them did. Many didn't, but they all gave us the opportunity to have the freedoms we have today.”

According to Lehto, veterans go to the center for food and to connect with other veterans.

He said homelessness among former service members is a never-ending story that the Coffee Bunker and BRRX4VETS is trying to re-write.

“I think it is important that people never forget that 365 days a year that there is someone out there who needs a hand up, who needs food for that next meal,” Lehto said. “When you think one in five veterans in Oklahoma does not know where their next meal is coming from, that is absolutely unacceptable.”

SPC. Taylor Cox is one of the lives that has been changed by the Coffee Bunker and BRRX4VETS. Cox did one tour in Iraq with the U.S. Army. When he returned to Tulsa in 2013, he found himself homeless living on the streets for a year and a half. “Work fell aside and before I knew it I was in some legal trouble and it just kind of spiraled real fast,” Cox said.

He said he heard about the Coffee Bunker and BFFX4VETS. With their help, Cox is no longer homeless.

“Once I got here, everyone took me in like family,” Cox said of the Coffee Bunker. “Man, it's great what everyone does here. Getting connected with a group of veterans again and getting that brotherhood back again was really a big help.” He said he does not know where he would be if it was not for the two groups.

Now, Cox is a volunteer at the Coffee Bunker, the same place that saved him. He said he wants to make sure veterans who are going through what he did have support to get back on their feet. One big way to do that, Cox said, is to make sure veterans and their families do not go to bed hungry.

“You wouldn't believe how many veterans we have that are going hungry,” Cox said. “The more stuff they can take home for them, and not just them, their families, is extremely important.”

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FOOD 2 VETERANS FOOD DRIVE

There are two drop off locations for Thursday’s food drive. In Broken Arrow, donations can be dropped off at the County Line shopping center on the southeast corner of Kenosha and Lynn Lane. In Jenks, donations can be dropped off at the Riverwalk, at 300 Riverwalk Terrace.

The groups are asking for canned meat, non-perishable meals, soups, peanut butter, pasta and sauce, rice and beans.

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