The growing number of homeless and troubled veterans is a grave concern that requires a response from many agencies and organizations. One of the best coordinated approaches is a “Stand Down” – a community-based intervention program bringing the veterans and service providers together. In August 2012, Phoenix House staff and volunteers participated in the Second Annual Orange County Stand Down coordinated by Veterans First.
The event took place on August 17-19, 2012 at the Army Reserve Center in Costa Mesa, near the Orange County Fairgrounds. Many public and private agencies were represented to offer services. The grounds were set up like a military base camp in which homeless and at-risk veterans as well as their families were able to come in off the streets and receive basic social services from a variety of community and government agencies. These services included:
- Medical, Dental and Vision Exams and Care
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling
- Veterans & Social Security Benefits Identification and Assistance
- Employment and Housing Assistance
- Legal Assistance and Homeless Court
- Children’s Services
Additionally, attendees could receive a hot showers and grooming along with clothing. The veterans were served hot meals and snacks throughout the day. Tents were set up for them to sleep, rest, and bond with fellow veterans.
Teresa Yuch, Manager of Phoenix House Recovery Maintenance Services, thus described the experience: “We had a tent where staff made presentations about substance abuse treatment and recovery and where volunteers held 12-step meetings for the vets. Our staff shared information about three Phoenix House programs: Residential, Outpatient, and Recovery Support. The vets really enjoyed our presence and the camaraderie. We were well received and enjoyed the ability to give back.”
Teresa has represented our agency on the Steering Committee that plans the event and includes the following partners: U.S. Veterans Administration, the office of the Honorable Loretta Sanchez (US Congress, 47th District), U.S. Social Security Administration, VA Long Beach Healthcare System, the office of the Honorable Lou Correa (State of California Senate, 34th District), California Department of Veterans Affairs, California Employment Development Department, Orange County, Orange County Public Defender office, Veterans First, American GI Forum, AMVETS Legal Clinic, Sons of the American Legion, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion Auxiliary, The Elks Orange County District, Team AmVet, Time Warner Cable, ATT Pioneers, Medline, Lions International, Building Trades Network, Orange County Association of Realtors, American Red Cross, tekcetera, Kaiser Permanente, Public Law Center, and United Healthcare.
Participation in the Annual Stand Down is just one way in which Phoenix House helps and supports our veterans in California. About 10% of Phoenix House adult clients in all programs are veterans. Since 2011, Phoenix House has provided Transitional Housing Services to Homeless Veterans, offering free substance abuse treatment, mental health services, case management, and room and board to about 4-5 veterans at any given time. This program is funded by the VA Long Beach Healthcare System. We are honored to be able to help those who made such a great sacrifice for our country!