For young service members, separation from family during the holidays can be especially challenging. The award-winning Freedom Inn, located on Fort Meade, Md., prides itself on giving some comfort to those spending their first holidays away from loved ones.
This Memorial Day, junior enlisted service members from the Defense Information School filed into the Freedom Inn dining facility and grabbed dinner from a variety of stations. It was business as usual as young public affairs students relaxed and talked in small groups. On a day like this, however, it was about more than a meal.
The majority of the patrons here are under 25, and many are in their teens. A holiday like this may not hit as hard as Christmas, but it can still be tough. The old saying “An army marches on its stomach” has meaning here as well. It’s a simple equation: good food = good morale.
Wille Harmon is the Assistant Project Manager for Sun Quality Foods, and he paused from serving the students to talk about the pride he takes in being here year-round.
“This year, we’ve actually been here 366 days. We’re here to feed the students. We want to make sure they get a good quality meal. If you get that, you’ve got the motivation and the energy to keep going.”
The troops have a variety of fresh-made foods to choose from. The salad bar isn’t chosen as often as the grill, though. Many students grab French Fries then head to the burrito bar.
Harmon said the most popular food hasn’t changed over the years.
“Cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, a lot of cheese. I don’t know what it is about the young ones but they love cheese!”
The Freedom Inn will continue to work for these young troops, but there are other resources available to anyone who may be feeling down. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to tackle the holidays alone. Reach out and help will be there.