Event set to help homeless veterans

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 28, 2013 at 9:02 AM

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home has enlisted a team of local service agencies and community volunteers to help provide a Community Stand Down for the region’s homeless veterans.

Set for Oct. 11 at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Johnson City, the event is patterned after a traditional military stand down in which battle weary soldiers are taken to a secure area for medical care, personal hygiene, clothing, food and fellowship.

The event will be held from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at the church, 201 E. Market St., and will begin with morning coffee and doughnuts from the Salvation Army Mobile Canteen. The day will also include a lunch of barbecue, hamburgers and hot dogs to be served in the church fellowship hall by Good Samaritan Ministries and a local restaurant.

Showers and laundry services will be available at the neighboring Good Samaritan Ministries building. Military surplus clothing will be provided by VAMC, and fresh clothing will also be available from the ministry.

Free eye exams and glasses will be provided by the ministry’s eye clinic and free health screenings and flu shots will be provided by the Downtown Clinic at the church.

And perhaps most importantly, approximately 50 area service vendors will be set up in the church gymnasium to provide information, applications and assistance with accessing a variety of veterans-service programs. Housing resources, legal resources, counseling and substance-abuse referrals will be among the array of resources available.

Conducted by the Veterans Administration in partnership with communities nationwide, the event’s purpose is to help the estimated 75,000 U.S. veterans who are homeless access the resources that are available to help them overcome barriers and rebuild their lives.

“This is an event that veterans will recognize,” said David Shields, a social worker with Homeless Veterans Outreach at VAMC. “Community Stand Downs have been going on since the 1980s. They’re to help veterans who are homeless or have needs meet some of those needs and get connected to the VA for medical care and other services from the VA and from the community.

The last Community Stand Down in Johnson City took place in 1993 and involved an estimated 300 veterans and community volunteers. About 150 veterans are expected to take part in the Oct. 11 event.

Shields encouraged those who plan to attend to register in advance at the Homeless Veterans Outreach office in Building 8 on the VAMC campus, in the Outpatient Clinic in the VAMC Domiciliary or at VA outpatient clinics in Morristown, Rogersville, Big Stone Gap, Va., and Bristol, Va.

Registration may also be completed at the Downtown Day Center and Good Samaritan Ministries in downtown Johnson City and at Salvation Army centers in Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol.

For more information about the event, call the VAMC at 979-2871.

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