Communities step up for homeless veteransOn any given night, nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Working together, organizations across the nation are taking steps to reduce that number. From San Diego to Saratoga, communities are responding to at-risk veterans' needs by staging Stand Downs to help connect those who have served with the resources they have earned.
Stand Downs connect homeless and at-risk-for-being homeless veterans with a wide variety of services, including employment and housing referral as well as VA and medical benefit counselors. At these events, homeless or at-risk veterans and their families can also receive food, health screenings, clothing, resume writing assistance and other services. National efforts are led by key agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
In addition to serving at-risk families, Stand Down events are service learning opportunities. Communities that collaborate to put together these events boost awareness about veteran homelessness and, in addition, educate event volunteers. Often local colleges and universities get involved, as when more than 40 Purdue University nursing faculty and students helped with a Stand Down in Lafayette, Ind. The students gained experience conducting health screenings, as well as a new understanding about homelessness among veterans.
In 2015, more than 500 Stand Downs were held throughout the U.S. Are you interested in creating a Stand Down for your community? The Military Family Research Institute provides resources to help organize these events, including a guide communities can use to plan and produce their own event. Your community can help veteran and military families manage the transitions and adjustments of civilian life. Consider organizing or participating in a Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, and make a difference today.