As it turns out, a little BBQ can cure more than just an empty stomach.
That’s exactly what wounded veteran Shane Farlin found out when trying to get back on his feet after leaving the Army. And now, he’s hoping to do the same for other soldiers with a food truck named Hogzilla.
Farlin had always wanted to be a soldier. Enlisting in the Army at the age of 17, he was later deployed to Iraq. In 2004, when returning from a supply mission in Fallujah, a bomb exploded in his face. A helicopter airlifted Farlin to treatment, saving his life, but the accident cost him one of his eyes. The injury also resulted in PTSD, and Farlin was discharged from the Army, leaving him with the need to find a new career.
He floundered for a while, spending four years interviewing for various jobs. To say that he was dispirited was an understatement — he was so low that once, he called the military suicide line.
Finally, Sonny Singh, the owner of a Michigan barbecue restaurant, Hogzilla, offered Farlin a job. The position made all the difference — lifting Farlin’s spirits and making him feel like a useful person again.
Now Farlin wants to provide jobs to other vets struggling to find work by opening up a food truck called Hogzilla Squeals on Wheels, with the hope of eventually expanding to an entire fleet of veteran-staffed food trucks (serving various types of cuisine). “I know vets make good employees,” Farlin told Kathy Jennings of Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave.
While food trucks are swarming cities from coast to coast, the trend hasn’t caught on yet in southwest Michigan’s Calhoun County, where Farlin’s vehicle would be the first full-service food truck in operation. Farlin is currently trying to raise the $50,000 he needs to get Hogzilla on the road through a Kickstarter page. So far he’s raised about $4,500.
Until Farlin’s food truck dreams are realized, he’ll continue to work in a vending trailer owned by the restaurant, forging agreements with private property owners to set up his trailer, as Battle Creek, Michigan does not yet allow food trucks on public property.
With any luck, Farlin will soon be serving up deep-fried macaroni and barbecue sandwiches and employing his fellow veterans.