A Calgary man who served with Canadian forces in Afghanistan is leading a new effort to help his fellow veterans.
Former soldier Ryan Preston has partnered with Cold Garden microbrewery to create “Heroes Lager,” a limited edition draft beer that will be served at the brewery in the Inglewood neighbourhood.
Proceeds from sales of the beer will go to the Veterans Association Food Bank.
“I am a combat veteran myself. I served in Afghanistan,” Preston said, “and I wanted to find out a way how I could continue serving and helping.”
The VAFB has seen demand for its services grow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s veterans in their late 20s, early 30s who had been working, facing layoffs, needing help making rent, making bills,” the VAFB’s Charles Redeker said.
“The pandemic really hasn’t helped their struggle at all.”
The VAFB supports veterans with food and housing as well as getting medical and optical care.
“They jump through hoops to try to help every veteran,” Preston said.
Preston had originally hoped to raise a few hundred dollars with beer sales, but matching contributions from several Calgary companies mean his effort is now able to donate $14,000 to the VAFB.
Preston is inviting other companies and individuals to join the effort.
“The sacrifices that these men and women are making to fight for our country or to fight for our freedoms is incredible,” Cold Garden Beverage Company’s Blake Belding said.
“To come home and not have enough food or not be able to put food on the table for the family, that’s heartbreaking, and so to have an organization like (the VAFB) available to them, to help support them, is super important.”
“Heroes Lager” will go on sale on Thursday, Nov. 4 at Cold Garden.
Redeker says the VAFB and its clients are grateful for the effort to help them.
“To have that kind of support in the community, it means the world.”