Today, the problems and challenges facing veterans returning from active duty are drawing attention, perhaps more than ever before. This is a positive development, as if the issues were going unseen, many military personnel would be more likely to suffer without the help they need. A wave of grassroots efforts around the country is becoming evident, with organizers hoping to take action and assist the veterans in their communities. For inspiration, these rising events can look to some of the long-running gatherings setting the mold for veteran care.
"The event offers services to approximately 1,000 veterans every year."
San Diego event reaches 29 years
Fox 5 San Diego recently reported that Stand Down For Homeless Veterans, a program that runs over three days every year, has returned for its 29th year. The event, founded in 1988, offers services to approximately 1,000 veterans every year, dealing with some of the most vulnerable individuals in today's society – those who have returned from war only to end up with no home.
There are several different facets to the program, according to Fox 5, with clothing, housing and counseling needs all being addressed. It has become a blueprint for similar events in other cities, as the problem of homelessness among veterans is not limited by geography, and the numbers of individuals living with no shelter remains high. San Diego's Point-in-Time Count of homeless veterans found 584 in shelters and 573 unsheltered. Though the numbers are still high, they are moving in the right direction – 631 were unsheltered last year.
The news provider noted that Stand Down is accompanied in the San Diego area by Housing Our Heroes, a joint program between federal and local organizations, with a bill totaling $12.5 million. With that much funding muscle, organizers can help the homeless find permanent living situations. So far, 18 families have received homes through the effort, with 130 more individuals signed up and qualified. Between the families housed already, their are now 34 children with roofs over their heads.
Assistance in Georgia
A related program to help homeless veterans recently began in Georgia, according to local news source South Metro Neighbor. Stand Up For Stand Down is a drive to collect personal care items and toiletries to be given to the homeless in the area. The donation period lasts for months, from July through early September, then the products collected are handed out at affiliated Stand Down events similar to the San Diego version mentioned above. By inviting the public to donate toiletries in small and travel-sized packages, the Stand Up for Stand Down drive gives people an easy way to get involved when they want to assist the homeless with everyday needs.
According to the news provider, the 2015 version of the event created a large stockpile of personal care products, which were distributed to over 1,500 individuals throughout the state of Georgia. The extreme vulnerability of homeless populations calls for varied and determined efforts from those able to help. Fortunately, organizations and events such as these exist to fill that requirement – hopefully more will take up the call and strive toward the ultimate goal of ending veteran homelessness.