EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A national fast food chain has been helping financially unstable veterans through an assistance program over the past 10 years.
Saturday is Armed Forces Day, so the VFW decided to honor a huge supporter of the Unmet Needs program. The first ever "Thank You Burger King Appreciation Day" was held at the Burger King on Golf Road where veterans could come eat breakfast and support Burger King. The Unmet Needs program gives $5,000 grants to military families in financial needs.
“It’s something that America really needs to pay attention to,” Michael DeRosa, president of Burger King of West Central Wisconsin, said. “We do honor our war dead, we honor our veterans, but sometimes we forget about them after they are out of service. And the VFW doesn’t want to do that and Burger King wants to help them give these grants to them because they sometimes have tough times.”
A guest speaker at the event, Harold Kronenberg, who is a World War II veteran, says thanking veterans locally for their service is extremely important.
“I have an emotional attachment to the Chippewa Valley, particularly Eau Claire, and especially to our veterans,” Kronenberg said. “And this is what this is about: for the veterans – to honor them and what they had done.”
Posts from all around the area came to show their appreciation for Burger King’s assistance. Over $4.5 million has been raised by the fast food chain over the past 10 years for the Unmet Needs program.
“Because of the fact the VFW said, ‘Go out and thank Burger King’, these veterans are coming here and saying thank you in mass,” DeRosa said. “We’ve got members from probably 5 different posts from around the area as far away as Osseo. That’s 20 miles. They came up here just to have breakfast and say thank you Burger King. I think that’s real special.”
Local veterans say it’s unbelievable what Burger King has been able to do for veterans. They say veterans who need help deserve everything they get.
“Our post comes up to support Burger King for all they do for Unmet Needs,” Bill McCune, a Vietnam veteran with the Osseo VFW, said. “We just come up to have breakfast and support Burger King.”
“There’s always some needs that are not met by other means,” Howard Hanning, a former Army and National Guard member with the Osseo VFW, said. “We step in if we hear about a comrade in distress and we’ll get to them and help them out right away if we can.”