“Tell me how far you can stretch that?” Veteran and Poet Lavinia Jackson Asks the Hard Q

This Veterans Day, we are each thinking of the veterans who have given so much to our great state and great nation. Unfortunately, too many veterans face poverty and food insecurity. Lavinia Jackson, a veteran advocate and poet based out of the Triad, issues this important reminder of difficult journey faced by many veterans and of our deep responsibility to serve those who served us.

Veterans, no matter the branch, all begin with basic training. We take an oath and spend weeks learning skills. More than road marches and cadences, we learn to depend. We expect order. We aren’t as close to poverty as we used to be. Direct deposit, twice a month, kept hunger at bay. We were given food and housing allowances, actual money to offset the cost of living. We had access to good food, on bases where we were stationed. We could grocery shop tax free. No matter if you served 2 years or 20, these perks went a long way. When you don’t think about “paying” for housing or food, you can truly focus on your job.

When you are discharged, you leave that access and support behind. Nobody tells you where to live, within your budget, or how to shop in a normal grocery store. You don’t have any allowances. Everything comes out of your paycheck. Povert