On Jan. 30, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. saw hundreds of homeless and at-risk veterans arrive for the 22nd Annual Winterhaven Homeless Veterans Stand Down.
About 400 veterans pre-registered for the event, while a total of around 700 attended to receive medical treatment, employment help and other services, Gloria Hairston, the medical center's director of public affairs and community relations, told Pentagram, a military news organization in the D.C. metro area.
Counseling, medical screening, housing assistance and a number of other services were on offer from more than 70 local, state and federal agencies and organizations. There were also hundreds of new coats, boots, hygiene kits and other items provided, the source reported in another article.
Among the volunteers there to receive incoming veterans were eight active-duty Marines. Marine Cpl. Fernando Maldonado told Pentagram he was there to contribute whatever he could to those in need.
"I always believe in giving back to the community as much as I can," he said. "Today we're essentially here to meet-and-greet, talking to veterans, seeing how they're doing. We're helping them navigate everything that's going on today. It's a huge event, so we're just bringing cheer along the way, helping any way we can."
Maldonado admitted that the event held personal significance to him.
"It means a lot because they're the ones that came before us," he told Pentagram. "We'll take care of them just like the way they took care of us beforehand…so that sometime in the future maybe some people along the line will pay it forward for us as well. They're struggling, so why not try and give as much as we can, whether it's a smile, a meal, clothing. Whatever it is, we'll try to give it back to the best of our ability."