The Gulf Coast Workforce Center estimates that 25% of the area's homeless population are military veterans. Today at their 5th annual 'stand down' organizers hoped to fill not only veterans stomachs, but their spirit as well.
On one end, you have, Randolph Fulton.
"After High School I joined the Navy and went out to San Diego NAS Mirimar with the F-14 program," said Fulton.
On the other, U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jamie Nazario.
"I have been in the Air Force for 13 years, I actually was originally an airplane mechanic," Nazario said.
Different ages, different generations, yet so many opportunities to learn from one another.
"I think back in the day, things were a little bit tougher in the military lifestyle wise," Nazario said.
It's part of the reason why many vets have it so hard today, and why the Gulf Coast Workforce Board hosts the homeless veterans stand down.
"We have folks from the Haney Technical Center giving haircuts to the vets, we have an excellent dental program here from Gulf Coast State college today," said Kim Bodine with the Gulf Coast Workforce Board
Homeless or not, veterans from all walks of life took advantage of the help many of them need.
"Things like this open up that avenue and shows you how to get help and what you can do to get help," said Kathryn Spencer. "It's more than just a handout, it's a hand up."
Kathryn Spencer attended with her son and granddaughter. Now in a wheelchair, she'll be forever known as a history-maker - among the 1st group women in the air force to wear fatigues.
"I was like 102 pounds, the smallest pair they had were so huge that they had to cut them way down," Spencer said.
For her and others, the American spirit that urged them to take the risks and endure the hardships still burns. Though some many struggle, its a spirit they long to pass down to the future gatekeepers of freedom - rank to rank or grandmother to granddaughter.
The veterans received a bag loaded with essentials, anything from socks and underwear to sleeping mats.