The couple was desperate from "just not knowing where food's going to come from," he says.
The money the military took back from Aiken resulted from accounting and other errors, and it should have been his to keep.
Aiken, then 30 years old, was in his second month of physical and psychological reconstruction at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, after two tours of combat duty had left him shattered.
It had started that October, when he received ,337.56, instead of his normal monthly take-home pay of about ,300. At the time, Aiken was living off base with his fiancee, Monica, and her toddler daughter, while sharing custody of his two children with his ex-wife.
Further, even after Aiken complained, the Defense Department didn't return the bulk of the money to Aiken until after Reuters inquired about his case.
As their money dwindled, the couple began hitting church-run food pantries.
Aiken took out an Army Emergency Relief Loan to cover expenses of their December move into a new apartment.