WATERLOO — The veterans who served the United States will be served lunch Thursdays in Waterloo.
What started out as way to provide housing for homeless veterans has turned into an annual event for Black Hawk County veterans.
“So we could feed them and then find out who they are; get them some benefits,” said Kevin Dill, executive director of the Black Hawk County Veteran Affairs Commission. “It evolved from that to just all veterans coming down whether you’re homeless or not.”
Starting this Thursday for 17 consecutive Thursdays, any veteran can come have lunch at Lincoln Park from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“This is our third summer, and typically we see a minimum of 50 to as high as 100 veterans show up,” Dill said. “You don’t have to call us to tell us you’re coming; you just show up.”
The meal and sponsor for the event changes from week to week.
“Sometimes that meal is us cooking brats on a grill or it’s different restaurants providing the catering for it, or we might get sub sandwiches from Walmart or something from Texas Roadhouse,” Dill said.
The lunch provides a chance for veterans to have fellowship and camaraderie, Dill said.
The lunch is free to veterans and veterans’ dependents.
Veterans who have never received any Veterans Affairs benefits are encouraged to get signed up if they qualify.
“It’s just a way to do outreach for veterans who never sought they’re benefits,” Dill said.
Anytime Dill encounters a homeless veteran at one of the lunches, that veteran is immediately housed, he said.
The Black Hawk County VA doesn’t just have cook-outs for veterans; recently it held a put-put tournament that raised $1,600.
“We raised over $1,200 just on entries,” said Charlie Aldrich, president of the Waterloo Eagles chapter 764. “In addition to that we had door prizes donated by many generous people to be raffled off.”
This was the first year for the put-put tournament.