Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stand Down

Stand Down is a program for homeless veterans. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for veterans to take care of personal hygiene, get clean clothing, enjoy a warm meal, and receive medical and dental care. A Stand Down was held today at in Post Falls, Idaho.

Veterans of all ages formed a line snaking back and forth outside the Bitterroot Building. As they waited for the doors to open, many traded stories of their time in the service. Music by Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Credence Clearwater Revival, Willie Nelson, and others of their era played over the loud speakers. Volunteers came around offering bottles of water.  The opening ceremony consisted of a welcoming speech by Mayor Clay Larkin and a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Disabled vets were given priority and the rest waited patiently for their turn.

Entering the door, the vets showed their proof of service and signed in. Each received two wrist bands, one designating eligibility for the surplus gear and one designating them as eligible for services from the agencies outside, and a meal ticket for a free breakfast burrito. Next they passed by tables manned by advocacy agencies and the Department of Veterans Affairs where they could receive information for getting assistance. A doctor, dentist, and a barber (free haircuts) were also on hand for those who needed their services.

As they entered the warehouse, each veteran received a duffel bag which which they could carry everything they took. They also had a choice between a day pack or a full backpack. The tables they passed by had socks, t-shirts, sweaters, long underwear, parkas, gloves, dress shirts, towels, rain covers, soap and other toiletries, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and boots.

This was a unique experience. I think the most common words spoken were said by nearly every volunteer there. "Thank you for your service."

 The doors opened at 8:00 am. The line started forming over two hours earlier.

 Several advocacy groups were on hand.

Lots of surplus military clothing...

 ...and equipment was ready to be put to use.

 Volunteers manned numerous stations...

 ...and helped vets with their available choices.

 The St Vincent DePaul Society had free civilian clothing.

 Second Harvest had free food.

 Great of him to volunteer but nobody rode a bike there. 

 Lots of people had their dogs with them.

 The Knights of Columbus provided free breakfast burritos.

 Vets could get a ride back to their car...

 ...get help from the Boy Scouts...

...or heft it all out themselves.

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