A helping hand for those who served
Honor Veterans Now (HVN) has received a $300,000 grant from the Texas Veterans Commission in its efforts to support the Meals for Vets program of HVN.
The funds will help the organization reach out to veterans in need across the entire state and provide them with daily, nutritional meals until they can get back on their feet, said Tom Wollny, CEO.
HVN was founded by Wollny in 2015 after he learned there were veterans going hungry but did not qualify for assistance because of their age.
“The Older Americans Act (OAA) enacted in 1965 allows funding to meal providers, but limits recipients to those 60 years of age and older with only limited exceptions,” Wollny said. “We were finding there were so many veterans who served honorably but did not quality for any type of assistance and their most basic needs were not being met.”
Wollny, a Korean War veteran, saw a real need to fill the gap the OAA left for younger veterans and formed HVN.
Using his own seed money, Wollny was able to network with local meal providers such as Meals on Wheels and The Golden Hub to begin feeding local veterans under age 60 in Gillespie, Kerr and Kendall counties.
The group eventually got their 501(c)3 nonprofit designation and has been seeking out grants and donations.
Since its founding, HVN’s Meals for Vets program has expanded to 42 counties in Texas and has been able to provide more than 100,000 meals to veterans under 60 in need “who otherwise would not know where their next meal would be, if they had one at all,” Wollny said.
The TVC grant funds will allow them to serve about 150 veterans, Wollny said.
The organization’s goal is to serve veterans in all 254 Texas counties. It is in the process of arranging meetings with Veterans Service Officers in all Texas counties.
“We are honored that the Texas Veterans Commission has selected HVN for funding our program to provide meals for our younger veterans,” he said. “This is our initial award and we anticipate future funding as we grow to serve veterans throughout Texas.”
Ruben Gonzalez, Medina County Veterans Service Officer, said some veterans are in desperate need of help.
“In one case, they helped one veteran in our county who had no way to refrigerate his food,” Gonzalez said. “But Tom and his crew brought not only food, but a refrigerator at their own expense. They helped us out a lot.”
The Commission’s Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA) grant program awards reimbursement grants to eligible charitable organizations, local governmental agencies and veteran service organizations that provide direct services to Texas veterans and their families.