CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It started with a group of Vietnam veterans drinking coffee together. They thought it would be nice if they could do something to help veterans here. So they formed a non-profit called the Freedom Foundation.
“Our food pantry last year in 2019 we distributed over 48,000 pounds of food to our veterans we gave them steaks, pork roast, chicken, bread, butter, milk, eggs, and all the food that comes in here,” said Chuck Elias, Board President of the Freedom Foundation. “Thursday luncheons where we have Veterans come in we serve them a home-cooked meal, last year in 2019 they served nearly 3000 meals.”
The Freedom Foundation is located in a store front building on Center Point Road, near Coe College.
“They’ll sit here and talk about things that they don’t talk about anywhere else because one vet to another they understand the stories,” said Roger Jensen, a Vietnam vet, and Board Member of the Freedom Foundation. “They understand where you’re coming from you tell a normal civilian some of the war stories they don’t believe you anyway.”
The non profit organization is trying to assist in ways the VA may not be able to help.
“When we find a veteran that is homeless and unemployed we put them in a motel we get them a part-time job,” said Elias. “Then we move them into a full-time job and then we get them permanent housing.”
This week the Freedom Foundation is launching a new operation just a few doors away form the current office.
“Its a one-of-a-kind military theme bar here in Cedar Rapids, called Foxhole Charlie,” said Elias. “In the back part of the building, we have the twelve thousand square feet Max Betenbender Military Exhibition Hall.”
The military museum has a lot of items to look at.
“So I’ve got bombs, machine guns and jeeps and trucks an ambulance, motorcycles,” said Elias. That was all part of the collection of Betendender.
The Freedom Foundation is willing to help any veteran they can no matter where they might be from.
“I would encourage you to if you know a veteran that needs help, give us a call,” said Elias.