Veterans are among the many Americans who are homeless this pandemic winter.
There are many reasons that Veterans and their families are living in cars or over the heating vents of the subway. It’s a fate that none of us would wish on anyone. And a struggle we all wish we could fix.
But there isn’t one easy solution. So we help when and where we can. That’s what Stand Downs are all about. The photo above is from a 2019 Stand Down.
What is a Stand Down?
In times of war, military leadership removed exhausted combat units from battle, allowing them time to rest and recover. They moved to places of relative security and safety. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms and enjoy warm meals. They received medical and dental care, mail, and enjoyed the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment.
Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s homeless Veterans on any given night – “combat” – life on the streets.
Homeless Veterans come together in a single location for one to three days. VA staff and volunteers provide them the community resources they need to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives.
In the military, Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Today’s Stand Down affords the same opportunity to homeless Veterans.
Collaborative events – VA – Community Based Homeless Providers – Others
Here is the link to Stand Downs across America in 2021. They range from today in Arizona to September in South Carolina.
Organizers add new events regularly, so check this page often for updates.
If you would like to donate or assist, check with your local VA.
Veterans can also receive referrals to other assistance such as health care, housing solutions, employment, substance use treatment and mental health counseling. They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VA Medical Centers, other government agencies and community-based homeless service providers coordinating them.
Veterans on the receiving end are grateful and appreciative.
“I am grateful for any help that is provided to me,” said Air Force Veteran Paul. “I find myself at times just needing that extra bit to make it through the months. This is just in time.”
Various individuals and group charities the free items.