United Way Helping Families of Servicemen

United Way Helping Families of Servicemen

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Sandra Yi ReportingThe call to serve can put a financial burden on families, but there is help.

Jennie Larson is a single mom to her two kids for now. Her husband, a Utah Army National Guardsman, is in Kuwait. Jennie says, the separation is hard and making ends meet isn't always easy.

Jennie Larson: "Anybody that has financial burdens know that it's just constantly in the back of your mind. It's always on your mind."

Jennie quit her job in January when her husband Steve was called to duty. He is an electrician with the 489th Engineer Utility Detachment. The family, including two small kids now lives on his military salary.

Jennie says it's comparable to what her husband made in his civilian job as an electrician, but without the overtime. When her husband got leave, Jennie used the money saved to pay their property taxes for a plane ticket.

Jennie Larson: "When he left, I was bawling because he was leaving and I was bawling because I had this and he didn't want to leave me with this burden, but he had to go."

But Jennie recently got a little extra help. The United Way Homefront Response Fund helps families cope with the personal and financial burdens of war. So far the assistance program has given more than 90 thousand dollars to 66 Utah families. That money pays for such things as bills and medical expenses. One woman also received money to buy wood to heat her trailer home.

Kristine Pepin, United Way of Salt Lake: "What we found is the pay for the military is much lower than what they were currently making and so people are struggling, even to buy food, paying their bills."

Jennie Larson: "They've helped so much more than I can put into words."

Jennie says now she isn't left wondering how to come up with extra money. She's grateful she can now focus on her kids and the holidays.

The program grants a maximum of two thousand dollars to families that qualify.

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