According to the U.S. Department of Housing, almost 40,000 of America’s veterans are homeless on a given night.
“For some of them they return from combat and they have some issues that they didn’t have originally, and so when they get home they tend to go from family member to family member, and then they end up on the streets or end up in the homeless shelter,” said Stand Down Chairperson Kimberly Neal.
The Homeless Veteran Stand Down offered the city’s homeless something that can be hard to come by; free clothes, a hot meal, and a roof over their head.
“We don’t serve food that you can get in a soup kitchen, all of our stuff is made from scratch, its’ grilled out. So they get a different kind of food that’s more of that home cooking kind of food that you can’t get” said Neal.
While the people who attend say the material things like food, water, and clothes are incredibly important, one of the things that lift their spirits the most are the immaterial things the Stand Down offers, like a checkup from the dentist.
“Free haircuts! Even the massages are great! It just lifts my spirits to be at these things” said Army vet Jonathan Kozak.
The Stand Down offers other services like legal help, veterans benefits aid, and mental health, which some found to be lifesaving.
“There were several attempts at suicide that I’d been going through over the past several months and now I’m getting the services that I need, and I’m doing pretty good right now,” said Charles Davis.
Kozak also says he’s doing well, and that Stand Downs helped him get back on his feet.
“Got my own place, going to school, just living large,” said Kozak.
The Stand Down is going on at Des Moines Street and SE 12th.
It wraps up Sunday at Noon.