“I would like to be so financially secure that I forget it’s payday and I don’t need the help.”

This is how Bre Anna Mumphrey summarizes her hopes for the future as she picks up food from the Houston County Shares pantry.

Bre Anna is a retired Navy veteran. She is among the 12% of women veterans nationally, and roughly 119,000 Texas veterans who receive food assistance through SNAP .

After her service, Bre Anna moved from Lufkin to the small town of Crockett in order to be close to her ailing step-father.

One of the hardest transitions was from 24-hour retail access to stores that closed early in the day. Time is precious to Bre Anna. She works part time at HEB, is in school for her masters in computer science and is busy raising six children - three of her own and three step-kids.

Bre Anna began receiving food assistance after her work hours were cut. “At first I was getting like twenty-three hours a week, and six hours a week is barely enough to live on,” she explained.

“Sometimes [the food pantry] gives meat… that’ll get us through at least two or three weeks because [the kids are] at school every day.” The local school serves both breakfast and lunch to its students, helping Bre Anna and her fiancé ensure their children are well nourished.

She laughs as she talks about how the children keep her busy. “You got growing kids, they got growing appetites.” Like any mother, she takes great pride in their accomplishments. “My 7 year old, she’s only in first grade but she’s already doing high school work!”

Bre Anna still volunteers in her community when she has the time. Her military service was important to her, “because one of these days I would like to think I have contributed something to my country.”

She would have liked to remain in service through the Reserves, “but you can’t have more than two dependents and I have three. So I just chose to go to school instead.”

While you are enjoying fireworks and barbecue this Independence Day, take a moment to consider how these traditions are made possible by service members past and present such as Bre Anna.