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Every bite helps.

Image: Kelsey Mance

The phrase “comfort food” conjures any number of connotations. Thanks to a compassionate effort from JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers owner Chad Glauser and his staff, it recently meant a respite from the grips of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced by the veterans of Camp Hope Houston on a day when emotions are exceptional. After Glauser realized his Memorial City restaurant was looking at a Memorial Day opening date due to a series of delays, the timing felt meant to be.

“It was without question that we would do something to support the veterans,” Glauser said, explaining that the decision to partner with Camp Hope was based on not only their mission to assist veterans with PTSD but also because they are in such great need. “[PTSD is] right in our backyard and it’s something we have the opportunity to do something about. We would be really remiss if we didn’t try.” Though Glauser is not a veteran himself, he is a longtime member of the Navy Seals Foundation and comes from a family that values giving back.

And so he opened his doors to the staff and residents of Camp Hope for an unforgettable day of food and fellowship all while raising money for the veterans’ organization: 25 percent of total sales from all three restaurant locations on Memorial Day was collected and reserved for a donation, awarded at Camp Hope on June 9. A total of $2500 was donated, which Camp Hope's executive director of support and fundraising, David Maulsby, said would fund special food requests of residents that go beyond the regularly provided meals.

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Messages of hope.

Image: Kelsey Mance

If the concept of burgers meeting a social need as great as veteran support feels lofty, it’s not. After all, one should never underestimate the power of a delicious meal among comrades and the impact of a well-timed handshake, kind word and an expression of appreciation of service—particularly on a holiday when veterans are especially vulnerable to the mental and emotional demons that so often haunt their post-combat minds.

“Memorial Day is one of the more difficult days for almost all of our vets, it’s a very difficult day. So this helped us deal with that in a very positive way,” said Maulsby of the invitation for residents and staff to share in JerryBuilt’s opening day festivities and enjoy burgers and shakes on the house.

The timing for veterans to engage with each other and the local community was especially fortunate as JerryBuilt’s generosity not only afforded the opportunity for veterans to go out as a group to enjoy a meal together but also a time for them to interact with the community and escape from the isolation many impose on themselves while experiencing guilt or grief over coming home without their fellow servicemen.

Maulsby was grateful for the relaxing day to share with his veterans, but was equally thrilled to partner with JerryBuilt because of the lasting impact such associations can have when it comes to educating the local community, raising awareness, and connecting civilians to the men and families who make our freedom possible. These open doors “Lead us to a veteran who we’re going to have the opportunity to help in his time of crisis,” he says. “That’s the ultimate for us. Ultimately we’re just trying to get in front of that veteran before he becomes a statistic.”

Save the date for Camp Hope’s 5th Annual BBQ Cook-Off on Oct. 14 and 15; more information will be available online as the date draws near.

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