Local military veteran saved by Point Loma sandwich shop

Veteran Timothy Lewis was homeless for 5 months

SAN DIEGO - After three years in the U.S. Navy, 23-year-old Timothy Lewis was out, and he said he quickly slipped through the cracks.

Homeless for five months on the streets of downtown San Diego, he said he remembers people would drive up to him, pretending to give him food. However, Lewis said they would then "pour cold water" on him.

After submitting 80 job applications, Lewis was saved by sandwiches.

Charlie Glanding, the co-owner of Firehouse Subs in Point Loma, hired Lewis and said choosing to hire a veteran wasn't hard.

"What they do have that the private sector doesn't have is their discipline, their drive and their motivation," said Glanding.

Experts are calling it the "Wal-Mart effect," based on the company's pledge to hire as many as 100,000 veterans in the next five years. Now, local veterans groups are hoping San Diego businesses will follow suit.

A recent study shows 13 percent of young military veterans in San Diego are unemployed.

Jack Harkins, with the United Veterans Council of San Diego County, said, "This is the time when we have the largest number of unemployed veterans engaged in the job search."

Harkins said local veterans like Lewis depend on small businesses for jobs.

"The great pledge of Wal-Mart for 100,000 jobs is going to answer some of the veterans jobs, but it won't meet all the needs in San Diego," said Harkins.

Countless sandwiches later, Lewis has moved into an apartment. While he knows most people dread moving, he said, "I don't. I'm building back up, back to where I was. I'm moving forward and I'm just going to exceed past that and hope never to fall again."

Firehouse Subs restaurants say they have also raised more than $23,000 for local firefighters and will giving firefighters safety equipment next week.

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