Veteran’s Stand Down Scheduled for September

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5By Terry Rogers

On Friday, September 25, the Delaware 2015 Veteran’s Stand Down will be held at the Walter L. Fox Post #2 American Legion, located at 835 Bay Road in Dover from 9 AM until 3 PM. The event is designed to provide community and Veterans Administration services to all veterans in the area, especially those that are homeless.

“The event was formerly held on the first Friday in October,” said Elizabeth Byers-Jiron, Executive Director of the event. “However, we moved it to the last Friday in September due to Dover’s NASCAR race weekend change. Due to major traffic and a large crowd of visiting friends, the committee voted to change the event date for this year. Although the event is designed with homeless veterans in mind, it is open to all veterans in the area.”

The mission of the Veteran’s Stand Down is to assist veterans in gaining independence and self-sufficiency through access to information and services that they may not be able to obtain on their own. At the event, veterans are provided transportation to the American Legion post where they are provided a continental breakfast and a ceremony welcoming them to the event. After the welcome ceremony, veterans have the opportunity to undergo health screenings, such as diabetic testing, blood pressure readings and to register for services offered throughout the area. Representatives from local VA Hospitals are on hand to provide information on services offered, including counseling and family services.

“Last year, dental screenings were available on-site as were free haircuts provided by Great Clips of Dover,” Ms. Byers-Jiron said. “There were 768 veterans registered at the 2014 even, all looking for information on services and seeking employment. When Delaware veterans find themselves homeless, there are emergency shelters, transitional houses and supportive housing available, but those locations find themselves filled to capacity on a nightly basis. This event is designed to help these veterans find the services they need and begin taking steps to improve their lives.”

In addition to the haircuts, dental and health screenings, this year’s Stand Down will provide legal service information, warm clothing and a hot lunch. The committee is seeking donations that include canned foods, cooking spices, paper towels, paper plates, coffee, laundry detergent, warm clothing and more. A list of items the committee is seeking can be obtained by calling 302-349-4898 or emailing lbjnavcret@hotmail.com.

Veteran’s Stand Down events are held throughout the country, modeled after the original Stand Down concept created by two Vietnam Veterans, Robert Van Keuren and Dr. Jon Nachison. The first event was held in San Diego in 1988. The original event was held for homeless veterans only and was modeled after the process followed as warriors left combat situations. At that time, soldiers were taken to a secure military base where they were provided with clean uniforms, enjoyed warm meals, while also receiving medical and dental care. It was there that they were provided the ability to care for personal hygiene, receive mail from home and enjoy the camaraderie of friends. In 2002, the event was taken over by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and it has become the most valuable outreach program to help homeless veterans today.

Delaware began holding Stand Down events in 2009 with the first held at the Nur Temple in New Castle. The event moved to the Modern Maturity Center in Dover before moving to its current location at the American Legion in 2012. Today, the event provides points of contact and answers related to shelter, employment, physical, emotional and substance abuse along with hope and stability.

“The former VA Secretary had a goal to end homelessness for veterans within five years,” said Ms. Byers-Jiron. “It provides at-risk veterans a solution to problems that could lead or have already lead to homelessness.”

For more information about the Stand Down, transportation to the event or becoming a participant, contact Ms. Byers-Jiron at 302-349-4898.