“Pittsburgh is a great community for veterans because the region provides opportunities for employment and engagement, but also a network of peers that understand a shared experience.”
Veteran Nick Grimes grew up in Mobile, Alabama but after serving with the 10th Mountain Division for two tours in Afghanistan, he decided to settle down and start a family in Pittsburgh. Now, he plays an important role in supporting veterans across the region.
Why is Pittsburgh an attractive place for veterans?
Surprising to many people, Pittsburgh has the third largest concentration of veterans in the country and the largest concentration without a major base nearby. What makes Pittsburgh such a great community for veterans is the opportunities that it provides for vets for everything from employment and community engagement to a network of peers that understand a shared experience. In addition, the Heinz Endowments is instrumental in helping to connect veterans to employers and funds resources like PA Services Mercy Behavioral Health to get veterans access to the support networks they need.
What role does Veterans Breakfast Club play in the veteran support network?
At Veteran’s Breakfast Club, we try to create a community of listening for veterans. We knew we wanted to better connect veterans across wars and decades so that they could share their experiences and know they’re not alone. We quickly realized the stories these veterans were sharing were unique and deserved a platform, so we started a podcast series. So far we’ve produced “The Longest War,” an interview format podcast, and now we have “The Truth about War,” a story format podcast that features some high profile guests like Steelers offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva, speaking candidly about his service and experience coming back.
What can Pittsburghers do to help and connect with the local veteran community?
One of the easiest ways to make an impact is to come to a Veteran Breakfast Club event. We have about 60 events per year where we share meals, conversations, and build relationships. Already, forty percent of attendees are non-veterans, and those people showing up and listening shows that they care and are interested in the veteran experience. That means a lot to vets looking to connect back into their communities and affirms that their service and sacrifice is valued.
What are some of your favorite spots around Pittsburgh?
PNC Park is hands down one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. It’s the best ball park in America by far, so my son and I spend a lot of time at games during the summer. Bigham Tavern in Mount Washington is also a great local spot and I recommend going on Wednesday’s for wing night. As an Oakmont resident, I’d be remiss to not give a shout out to Oakmont Bakery! It’s impossible to recommend anything specific from there – it’s all so good – but if I absolutely had to choose, I’d say get the Chocolate Cream Pie – you won’t regret it.