Veterans of the Vietnam War will remember the term “stand down” as a temporary break from duty aimed at resting, recovering and recharging their bodies and minds. During a stand down, soldiers could expect to enjoy the comfort of warm meals, clean uniforms and the company of fellow service members in a safe space far removed from combat.
Since 1988, however, the term has taken on a new meaning that has positively affected lives across the country— as the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) carries its own unique Stand Down program into its twenty-third year, tens of thousands of homeless Veterans around the country can expect help in the form of medical care, job assistance, new clothing, food and the company of
Every year, these Stand Downs take place in a variety of forms and at a wide range of locations.
Lasting from one to three days, each brings homeless Veterans together in a space where they can find freshly cooked meals and clean clothing, receive job counseling and referrals, and seek medical and legal advice. Most importantly, however, a Stand Down offers homeless Veterans a chance to come together and connect with their local communities.
In 2009 alone, more than 40,000 Veterans received care and assistance at these events; this fall, there will be more than sixty such gathering all over the country.
Many Veterans organizations have developed their own program of Stand Down events, the positive effects of which are readily apparent.
Sponsored by Chapter 391 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Tuolumne County, California will soon host a Stand Down that will offer access to educational services as well as dental care provided by local dentists.
At an ongoing event in Fresno, California, Veterans and active-service members alike have encountered an army of volunteers who provided them everything from a barbershop to a makeshift
courtroom providing legal services. Organizers said they expected more than 2,000 current and former service members to take advantage of the Stand Down before its conclusion tomorrow.
One Vietnam Veteran told a local news radio station, “I think it’s beautiful… there’s so much love here.”
Whether overseen by the NCHV or by independent organizations, Stand Downs are an invaluable resource for the nation’s homeless Veterans. The need for these and other events like them is an urgent one: the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are currently 10,000 homeless Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone.
For more information about Veterans’ benefits, please visit www.vetlawyers.com