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Number of Military Families on Food Stamps Skyrockets

Number of Military Families on Food Stamps Skyrockets

  Joining the armed forces won't make you a millionaire, but a growing number of military families are relying on governmnet assistance to put food on the table.

 

  The need for food stamps among military families has skyrocketed since 2008, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports, hitting nearly $104 million last year.

 

  At the same time, charities like San Antonio based Operation Homefront are getting thousands of requests annually for food assistance.

 

  "Our 2013 numbers are about triple the pre-recession numbers," spokesman Aaron Taylor says.

 

  The Food Stamp situation remained fairly steady in the last decade, but began to jump about 2010 and has continued to rise.

 

  Taylor says there are many reasons for the increase in Food Stamps among military families, and not all of them are bad.  He says with the continuing draw down of troops from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, fewer military families are receiving hazardous duty pay.

 

  "It's a wonderful thing to have our troops home from overseas, but there are sometimes some dislocations that go with that," he said.

 

  He also cites the fact that it is frequently difficult for military spouses to find good jobs.   The unemployment rate for military spouses in 2012 was more than 30%, officials say.

 

  Another factor in the Food Stamp jump is the fact that, unlike throughout the last several millennia, when mainly single young men made up military forces, today's more specialized armed services are more likely to include families, frequently with several children, and that adds to the service member's burden.

 

  The change to a family military is so significant, that many military bases have abandoned their programs to allow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to have Thanksgiving dinner with a local family, because such a large percentage of troops have their own families to have dinner with.  In addition, more and more military people at the lowest ranks, aged between 18 and 20, have families, and they are in the military's lowest pay grades.

 

  Taylor says the military is a difficult economic sub set, and military family's families don't often raise with the improving economy.

 

  "We hope it continues to go down as the economy gets better, but miltiary families will always face challenges, and we will be there to help them out," Taylor said.

 

  The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which operates the Food Stamp program, says easier qualification requirements for Food Stamp benefits also has a lot to do with the increase.  But it says in 2011, only about 5,000 active duty military members were receiving Food Stamps, which is a fraction of the total active duty force.

 

 

 

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