Understanding the challenges
At Mt. Carmel, Coombes joined local RTX employees, volunteers and military leaders to discuss the challenges of food insecurity in military families.
Among the contributing factors: low base pay for junior enlisted personnel, increased rates of unemployment and underemployment for military spouses and other family members, the high cost of living near many military installations across the country, and other costly financial commitments such as student loans and child care.
“We have a lot more young soldiers that come in that are married with families than we did 25 or 30 years ago,” said U.S. Army Col. Nate Springer, the garrison commander at nearby Ft. Carson. “Now, the military has done really well to counter that with food security programs. But you know that soldiers and their families move every two or three years. So there (are) a lot of costs. I think that’s one of the big contributing factors.”
The U.S military “has to operate in some of the most expensive communities in the United States,” said Vince Hall, chief government relations officer at Feeding America. “And the families that are stationed in those communities sometimes don’t have enough money to afford all of the expensive things that those communities present to them, whether it's groceries, or fuel, or rent, or other monthly expenses.”
“In partnership with Feeding America, RTX is directly providing help and assistance to families who (have) family members serving overseas,” Hall continued. “Thanks to the investment of RTX, and to the energy of its employees in support of this mission, we’re going to get this job done.”
Making an impact
Sandy Brown, an Army spouse and vice president at Raytheon, an RTX business, volunteered at the Mt. Carmel food distribution event in Colorado Springs. For her, giving back to those who protect the United States is personal.
“I have seen firsthand the positive impacts of initiatives such as this,” said Brown. “I am overwhelmed with the amount of employee engagement. It truly shows and demonstrates our core values at RTX around serving underrepresented communities, especially those in our military.”
For Coombes, the direct support she lends as a volunteer – such as simply handing a carton of eggs to a family in need – is more than just providing a meal.
“When we are able to find these military families that are having food insecurity issues and we can help them, ultimately we’re helping the military as a whole,” she said. “It’s great to be able to just connect to people and say, 'We’re here to support you.’”