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Military Family Support Center offers support for local veterans

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10)-- The unemployment rate for veterans nationwide continues to fall. After reaching a record 12% in 2011, that unemployment rate is now down to 6% making last year the best year on record for Iraq and Afghanistan veteran unemployment.

Although employment rates are up, there are many veterans that need a little extra help-- whether it comes in the form of financial assistance or emotional support. After more than a decade of serving the families of active duty deployed military members, the center expanded in 2016 to serve veterans as well.

The MFSC now offers food and supply distribution for veterans and their families twice a month. The program has quickly grown from just seven families in January 2016 to more than 40 by the end of the year.

"It's our way of saying, 'Thank you for your service. You're important to us and you're a treasure,'" says Roger Talmadge, the President and CEO of the Military Family Support Center.

Veterans like Tracy Lowell, who served in the Army National Guard and lost her civilian job last year because of chronic health problems, come together every week. They pick up the food and supplies that they need and take a few hours to speak with fellow veterans-- sharing their stories with people who understand what they're going through.

"They understand. They're going through the same thing, it's a huge support," she says. "This just, it was there. It helped. It got me through and helped my family. It gave me somewhere to go and someone to talk to."

She says the program has lifted a major burden off her shoulders as she continues working to support her family.

From food to cleaning supplies and even diapers and items for newborn babies-- the center works to provide for these veterans and their families in every stage of their life.

When Andrew Komar lost his job back in November 2015, he was having a tough time supporting his family-- forced to use his savings ton day to day needs. That's when he turned to the MFSC for the help he needed to get back on his feet, not only financially but with medical issues at the VA Hospital as well.

Now he's returning the favor, by volunteering for the program he says saved his family.

"I love helping people and giving back to the organization," says Komar, and Army Veteran. "I don't just want to be a taker. I want to give back and I love to meet the other veterans and exchange stories with them and hear about their journeys."

The program is available for veterans, families of service members and surviving dependents of fallen heroes. As of this month, between 30 and 40 families are currently being served by the program. Click here for more information and how you can get involved.