Stand Down stands up for vets

CENTER CITY - September 12, 2009 Operation Stand Down once again administered medical care and other vital services to hundreds of local vets, most of them homeless or facing serious social problems.

Men and women who served in the military, but are now surviving on the fringes of society, off the regular VA's radar. For 15 years this volunteer effort has been held post-Labor Day, providing meals, entertainment and a place to sleep for the weekend for those who are out here suffering.

Stand Down is the military term for a period of rest and resupply for exhausted combat troops.

"It's our way of giving back, you have not been forgotten, Uncle Sam may not give you everything you need, but we're trying," volunteer Paulin Chafin said.

"We've had a lot of Vietnam vets, most of the time, and over the years, it started to transition into Afghanistan, Iraqi war vets," Ed Speller of Stand Down said.

When Stand Down had trouble finding a venue to pitch their tents this year , the VA Hospital came through at the eleventh hour with space that has been designated for a new parking lot. This weekend it is a tent city for the homeless vets and their families to stand down in a drug-free, booze-free and violence-free place.

Not only do they get shelter, food, clothing, mental health counseling, haircuts, and showers, they get legal aid and counseling, as well.

The backers of this 16 year old event guarantee it will go forward again next year and beyond. In the times in which we live, the need is destined to keep on growing.

The mission is to relieve these vets of their isolation. For many, it is their first contact ever with any official veteran organization.

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