Freedom Foundation helps thousands of veterans in need - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Freedom Foundation helps thousands of veterans in need

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An organization formed by veterans to help veterans is making a big impact. 

The Freedom Foundation non-profit in Cedar Rapids works in many ways to help veterans in need, even doubling as a cooling center for them to escape the summer heat. 

Freedom Foundation Executive Director Charles Elias says they mainly help, "The disabled, the unemployed, the disadvantaged."

They have already welcomed more than 3,700 veterans, family members and guest so far this year. 
"The sad part about it is that the need is there, our numbers just go up," says Elias. 

He is a veteran himself and lost family members in combat. 

Elias told us about a tragic day he had as a kid at his grandma's house. 
"I find her weeping on the floor holding her certificate from her son that's been killed and she's holding the telegrams telling her we don't know, can't find him anything and she's writing him letters saying where's my son where are you and all of this and that struck a nerve with me," he says. 

It's one of the things that motivates him to help veterans in need. 

The Freedom Foundation offers food and clothing pantries, bus tickets, a lunch program on Thursdays and a place to cool down among other things. 

One of the most important things you can get at the Freedom Foundation is a sense of community, veteran to veteran. 
 "As you can see in the background there is a lot of comradery, a place where guys can come and relax they don't have to be stuck with war stories," says Roger Jensen, a volunteer. 

The Freedom Foundation means a lot to veterans like Lawrence Priske,"Thank you for helping us," he says. 

Priske told us the foundation helped him get on an honor flight. 

So far this year the Freedom Foundation has helped more than 800 veterans in the food pantry, given away more than 600 bus tickets and helped more than 200 veterans with clothing. 
They are in the preliminary stages of preparing to open the first veterans only homeless shelter in Cedar Rapids. 


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