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military family of four

Family Story

Army Veteran Appreciates Support of Holiday Meals

By Operation Homefront

September 26, 2023

Operation Homefront Provides Free Holiday Meals for Military Families

When Army Staff Sgt. Li Li was honorably discharged in December 2022, he became a stay-at-home dad and their family of four also became a one-income family.

His wife, Yao, is a catering cook at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Li was last stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The family decided to stay after his return to civilian life. temporary medical retirement.

Being a one-income family can be challenging, especially in a high-price region when inflation increases. The family participated in Operation Homefront’s Holiday Meals for Military families this spring, benefitting from help provided for veterans for the holidays. The extra dollars really helped out, Li said, and the benefits are not just financial.

“It’s more than enough to put together a fancy holiday meal for the whole family but, more importantly, psychologically, it shows me people appreciate service members and appreciate my service. I’m so grateful for that.”

“It shows me people appreciate service members and appreciate my service. I’m so grateful for that.” – Li Li, Army veteran

Li called life in the Army his second life. Born and raised in China, Li first came to the U.S. as an international student at South Dakota State University to earn his Ph.D. He could not get a job. Li discovered that the military could be a path to citizenship.

“I felt like there was nothing more American than joining the military,” he said.

In the Army he worked as an occupational therapy specialist. Li enjoyed his time in the service, he said, and he’s ready for a new adventure.

He has immersed himself in life as a stay-at-home parent and is counted on for carpool and play dates. He is learning all about American culture through his children, Ellis, 8, and Erin, 6.

His children have particularly American names, Li said, because during each pregnancy he happened to ask friends—one named Ellis and one Erin—what a good American name would be. He laughs about that now.

His children helped educate him on Christmas when they asked where the cookies were for Santa. Li had to Google it.

“I truly appreciate all the things I learned in the military,” Li said. “Now that I’m retired, I’m open to start another chapter of life. I’ll lead a third life!”

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