The History

Military Veteran families were struggling……

VSTN building in 2009
The Veterans Project moved from a carport to this building in 2009.

     It all started in a carport with 2 bags of donated clothes and a dream on July 2, 2009.  The dream was to alleviate the struggle for Military Veterans who fall behind the common misconception that the U.S. Government provides assistance to all Military Veterans.

                   The reality is that without a timely diagnosed, service related injury or illness, the majority of Military Veterans return to a civilian life with no consideration for their military status or the mental and physical scars of their sacrifice.  They struggle to find jobs and pay  bills just like regular civilians, while trying to deal with the residual affects of their Military service.

            Mrs. Ramos sold the 2 bags of donated clothing and continued to sell donated items in order to purchase groceries for the 37 families she had Adopted in to the program.

 “It is sad to see what some of these Veterans are going through,” states Mrs. Ramos,  “Some are young and some are old, but oh, the problems they’ve got!”

               Mrs. Ramos was granted 501c3 status for Volunteers Serving the Need in October 2009 and set out to expand the program.  Mrs. Ramos continued to sell donated items to purchase groceries and by January 2010, The VSTN Thrift Store became an official reality.  Mrs. Ramos had also been granted permission to partner with the South Texas Food Bank.  The community was taking notice of the Nutritional and Economic needs of Military Veterans and Surviving Spouses within Webb County TX.

                 By August 2011, VSTN had expanded the program to serve groceries to several hundred Military families.

Military Veterans wait in cold for groceries
Waiting in the Cold for much needed groceries.

       The need was so great that the Military Veterans and families would wait in lines, exposed to the elements, wind, rain, heat and cold, for hours, just to receive whatever we could offer them.

               As it became evident that these honorable Veterans needed more than Nutritional assistance, VSTN rallied the support of other community agencies to provide assistance with food stamp applications, debt management classes, clothing suitable for job interviews, and transportation for medical appointments and interviews.  The quest began to develop a VSTN network of resources for Military Veterans and Surviving Spouses.

New Roof for Volunteers Serving the Need
A new roof to provide some Shelter from the Elements

Efforts to expand the program resulted with the donation of 3 semi trailer convex boxes to accommodate the storage needs of the growing “outdoor” Thrift Store.  In 2012, VSTN was blessed with a grant to construct a carport type roof over the ‘sales area’ of the Thrift Store to provide some shelter from the elements.

              By this time, The Veterans Project had garnered the attention of Community groups, local Business leaders, Learning Institutions and the Media.  Thanks to the support of the community, VSTN saw an increase of Volunteers, Grants, Financial support and Donations to the Thrift Store.  We also experienced an increase in the number of Military Families that needed assistance.  Our Military Veteran families began to rally around the project and volunteer their time to help with some tasks to prepare items for distribution.
          After working without a salary for three years, Mrs. Ramos was finally able to appropriate minimal salaries for the staff.  To this day, she continues to ‘donate’ her salary to purchase groceries when funds are scarce.
         The Veterans Clubhouse facility was donated in March 2016.  After five months of repairs and upgrades, The Veterans Clubhouse quickly became a gathering place for the Military Veterans to enjoy coffee and donuts, sheltered from the elements, while waiting to be served in Sept 2016.
Military Veterans wait for food
Military Veterans wait in comfort for their Groceries

            The dire need for the services we provide has prompted us to expand our assistance to more than 500 Military Families being served on a monthly basis.

         We currently occupy 5 separate facilities and still carry out our mission under somewhat primitive conditions.  Our efforts continue towards the expansion of our Services to the Deserving Military Families within our Community.  We CAN NOT do it without the Compassion and Generosity of a Community that CARES about the sacrifices that these Honorable men and women continue to make on a Daily basis.

               Many of our Military Families are dealing with Medical Conditions.  Having to choose between Medication or Nutrition is not a Freedom that they fought for.

Thank you for helping us to

 “Make a Difference in the lives of those who have Made such a Difference in Ours.”