DES MOINES, Iowa – Bob Lindberg served four years in the U.S. Air Force, but after that, his life hit a pretty low point.
“You know, and there’s been things happen in my life that ain’t the best, and ain’t the worst,” he said.
Lindberg struggled with homelessness for awhile, but several years ago, he stumbled across a variety of resources at the Polk County Veterans Affairs’ annual Homeless Veterans Stand-Down. Now, he’s in a much better place, but he’s still coming to the stand-down every year – to volunteer.
“Freedom isn’t free. There’s a price that’s paid, and I’m just trying to help out and give back, because so many people have given to me, and helped me,” he said.
For organizers, this event is a critical opportunity to help hundreds of Central Iowa veterans who may not know about the benefits they’re entitled to, or the resources at the ready for them.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know about the services that are out there, or are just too intimidated,” said Kimberly Neal with the stand-down.
Numbers-wise, Neal says this year’s effort didn’t serve a significantly larger amount of people than last year’s; however, the services they offer has expanded every year.
“We see a lot of younger veterans coming through, so over the years, we’ve changed what we do,” she said. “So now we take a lot of donations of children’s clothing, children’s toys. This is the second year in a row that we’ve done school backpacks.”
The effort wrapped up Sunday at noon, where organizers say they saw more clothing donations leave with veterans and their families than ever before. Though numbers have yet to be crunched, Neal says as long as one person was helped, her job was done.