18th MEDCOM (DS) volunteers to support homeless veterans

| September 15, 2011 | 0 Comments
Homeless veterans receive haircuts at the first-ever Honolulu Stand Down at Ala Moana Beach Park, Sept. 7. Stand Down is an event for homeless veterans that — along with providing clothes, food, haircuts and health screenings — helps the veterans receive information on VA benefits, jobs and housing.

Homeless veterans receive haircuts at the first-ever Honolulu Stand Down at Ala Moana Beach Park, Sept. 7. Stand Down is an event for homeless veterans that — along with providing clothes, food, haircuts and health screenings — helps the veterans receive information on VA benefits, jobs and housing.

Story and Photo by
Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Jackson
18th MEDCOM (DS) Public Affairs

HONOLULU — Personnel from 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) helped homeless veterans receive a “hand up” during the first-ever Honolulu Stand Down at Ala Moana Beach Park, here, Sept. 7.

The all-day event helped 154 homeless veterans get registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs; receive medical and health screenings; get assistance in obtaining employment and VA benefits; file claims and appeals; find housing; receive clothing, toiletry items, haircuts and a good meal; and enjoy live music in the park.

Volunteers from different organizations organized and supported the event.

“I asked the veterans what they liked about today, and a lot of them are saying that they’ve never had this kind of help before and that they didn’t think anyone cared,” said Sgt. Dominic Bona, paralegal specialist, 18th MEDCOM (DS). “They said the food and the clothes were great.”

Bona added that the veterans said it was terrible to just be learning about jobs and benefits now, since that’s stuff that they earned.

“I didn’t take my military benefits for a long time, but I’m starting to take them now,” said Dana Powers, a homeless veteran. “My last duty station was West Berlin.

“This has been really good. I really appreciate the effort that people put into this for the veterans,” Powers continued.

This event was a first for the Honolulu area, but it’s been sponsored in San Diego every year.

“The San Diego Stand Down is the national model,” said Noe Foster, volunteer coordinator. “About 1,000 veterans go to it every year, over a three-day period, but it also includes a Stand Down court that we hope to incorporate next year here.”

The Stand Down court has a judge come out and help homeless veterans with any of the common infractions that might be holding them back from getting a job or getting certified, Foster stated.

“Stand Down was started back in the ‘80s by a veteran that got out of the service, became a psychologist and saw a need to help veterans that were homeless,” said Ed Speakman, volunteer coordinator and retired master chief petty officer and Navy SEAL. “The one thing about Stand Down is (veterans) look at it as it’s not a hand out. It’s a hand up.

“It’s designed to make the veterans aware of what’s available for them,” Speakman explained.

 

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Category: Community Relations, News

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