One out of four homeless persons is a veteran. The original Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirits, health, and overall sense of well-being. Our updated Stand Down program is successful because it brings these services to one location, making them more accessible to homeless veterans.
Over 150 veterans received help during an event sponsored by the Hampton VA Medical Center and the Military Affairs Committee in Hampton on Saturday, November 16th. The Stand Down event, which targeted homeless and at-risk veterans and their family members, was held at the YH Thomas Community Center on Thomas Street, in Hampton, VA from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Representatives from over 20 organizations were on hand to talk about housing, jobs, substance abuse and mental health treatment, pastoral care, and accessing VA services. The event also offered hot meals, haircuts, showers, and a distribution area for donated items such as coats and blankets. Over 350 lunches were served to those in need.
Stand Down also included a health and wellness area where veterans could take advantage of services such as HIV Testing, courtesy of the Minority Aids Coalition. Staff members were available to enroll veterans in My HealtheVet, which offers free online access to VA health care information and services, empowering veterans to become informed partners in their health care. The event also offered an area where veterans could submit claims for compensation and pension; service officers and a veterans benefits administration representative (VBA) were present to assist. A computer lab was set up and the Virginia Employment Commission assisted veterans in searching available job listings.
“I was so honored to be a part of the Hampton Stand Down,” said Nancy Evanco, manager of business development for Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic and the wife of a veteran herself. “The things that always leave a lasting impression at a Stand Down are: the continuing needs of our nation’s veterans; the large number of volunteers, both young and old; and the pride, respect and gratitude of the veterans who attend. I hope that each veteran walked away with additional hope, support, and resources.”
John Gately, chairman of the Military Affairs Committee in Hampton, added, “To help the homeless is right. To help homeless vets who served in defense of our nation’s liberties is not only noble but necessary. Hampton and its neighbors care for veterans. At this Stand-Down you found more than 200 volunteers; that says it all.” Our veterans and their families have given so much for all of us–how do we repay them, and is it ever enough? All we know is that our efforts will continue as long as they are needed.
Every day, Phoenix Houses of the Mid‐Atlantic helps hundreds of people, including Veterans, who are suffering from addiction in 17 programs in Virginia, Maryland and DC. Find out more about our programs and services, or call us today at: 1 888 671 9392.