Operation Stand Down — Event to aid homeless, at risk veterans

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Sep 8, 2015 at 9:34 PM

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home and dozens of community organizations are making plans for the region’s third annual military-style stand down for homeless at-risk veterans.

Scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9, at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Johnson City, Operation Stand Down is designed to connect veterans with essential services, including health care, military benefits, housing, employment and education.

A complementary lunch will be provided by the church and dozens of community veterans groups, nonprofit organizations and businesses will be on hand with free gifts and services ranging from legal assistance to clothing and shoes for veterans who need them.

Northeast State Community College will open its new downtown Johnson City facility for a veterans job fair to be held in conjunction with the stand down.

Several employers and representatives of the Tennessee Department of Labor’s disability employment program will be on hand to help veterans find work. And the college’s staff and volunteers will be there to provide employment counseling, help preparing resumes and coaching for interviews.

The Tennessee Department of Safety will have its mobile licensing unit onsite to help veterans secure driver’s licenses and photo identification.

The stand down’s signature resource fair, featuring variety of free legal services, dental screenings, haircuts and much more, will be conducted in the church’s Christian Life Center.

Operation Stand Down organizer David Carter said the goal is to provide homeless veterans with supplies and services that can end their homelessness and to help veterans who are at risk avoid becoming homeless.

The Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness, a HUD-supported coalition of nonprofit organizations serving the homeless population of Northeast Tennessee, will be a key partner in the stand down’s efforts to meet that goal.

ARCH Executive Director Anne Cooper said while the VA and HUD-funded housing programs have significantly reduced the number of veterans in the region who are homeless, a 24-hour count of Northeast Tennessee’s homeless population conducted in January showed more than one in five of the homeless people in the eight-county region are veterans.

To further reduce that number, VA case managers and ARCH representatives will be at the stand down to help veterans and their families access the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program that provides financial assistance and other services for homeless prevention and rapid rehousing and the Veterans Housing Supportive Housing program that provides rental assistance to help veterans maintain their housing permanently.

“We go out every week on the streets, to encampments, up on the Appalachian Trail and other target areas and reach out to homeless veterans. We carry backpacks of food and information to give them we make every effort to get them the services they need,” Cooper said.

Veterans in need of immediate housing assistance are encouraged to contact ARCH at 423-928-2724 or Veterans Affairs at 877-424-3838 or 877-4AIDVET

The stand down will begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 3 p.m. at the church at 201 E. Market St. More information about the event may be obtained by contacting David Carter at 423-349-4622 or [email protected]

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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