Friday, December 21, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.
This year, a few deserving vets will be treated to Christmas Dinner at Dave & Busters
thanks to the tireless work of the Veterans in Need Foundation in Pompano.
Mike Dodsworth is a volunteer, soon to be employee, and a retired veteran himself.
"We fed over 600 veterans on Thanksgiving and we just didn't have enough turn around time to raise funds for Christmas," says Dodsworth. "So we made some calls to restaurants and Dave & Buster's stepped up."
The Foundation managed to find family and friends for many of their vets to spend the holiday with and even paid to fly many of them home to other states.
"Most of these guys are Iraq or Afghanistan veterans, though we have a few Vietnam vets too."
The V.I.N.F., a 501c3 that has been around since 2009, provides support to American veterans such as finding housing, counseling, 12 step programs, family counseling, and homes for families. Many veterans suffer with PTSD or substance problems and are estranged from their families for various reasons.
This is why, according to V.I.N.F. Administrator Victoria Thompson, around the holidays they need a little extra care.
"The people we help already have more problems and issues than anyone should have," says Thompson. "This Christmas dinner to bring them a little bit of happiness."
Dodsworth hasn't yet started his new job at V.I.N.F., but he's already hard at work. He's a retired veteran himself and the sole provider for his mentally disabled daughter. They recently found themselves evicted from their Miramar home when the landlord was foreclosed on and then evicted again after one day in their new home when the city came to claim several years of property taxes.
"I just showed up at the Foundation with my Veterans Card and they not only found us a new place to live and helped us with the deposit, they said, 'Hey, we might have a job for you.'"
Dodsworth sounds incredibly upbeat for someone who's been through so much, but he is clearly grateful to the V.I.N.F. and excited for the opportunity to reach out to other veterans.
"They have to work or they have to be in a 12 step program, one or the other. And we'll find them a job - or give them one. As long as they are trying to help themselves, we will help them."
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