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'Stand Down' event offers help, services to homeless veterans, others in need

Homeless veterans, others in need and their families will have access to social services resources and other assistance at the event.
Credit: KBMT

BEAUMONT, Texas — Representatives from more than 25 Southeast Texas non-profit groups will be on hand to assist homeless veterans and others in need during a stand-down on Friday.

The "Southeast Texas Stand Down 2021" will be held downtown in the Beaumont Civic Center on Friday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. according to a news release from the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission.

The free event benefits homeless veterans as well as others in need, the release said.

"The gratitude of a nation shouldn't depend on your socioeconomic status," said Seth Wells, the executive director at the Rise Center for Independent Living.

Veterans in need will get the support they deserve.

"We all fall on hard times, and we all go through things and need a little help. That's what we're here for, veterans helping veterans."

Even heroes fall on hard times, whether it's living on the streets, or dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"It’s more than saying ‘thank you for your service,’ Wells said. “It's acknowledging that there’s issues we need to address in the veteran community, mental health. Coming back from war with a disability and living with that disability for the rest of your life.”

The Stand Down event offers that much-needed help for vets, such as employment, housing, legal assistance, VA benefits, health screenings, counseling, food, and this year, vaccines.

"Our goal is to get the shots in arms if we go to our public versus having the public come to us," said Rachel Dragulski, nurse and supervisor with Jefferson County Public Health.

Those who show any form of veteran identification will get a pair of boots, and a duffle bag full of essentials.

Bruce Hamilton is an Army veteran who serves on the committee that's making this happen.

"[It’s] kind of like a one-stop-shop. A veteran can come in here and talk to the VA, talk to housing, medical people, whatever their needs are," Hamilton said.

The event will also be a chance to network, according to Hamilton.

"Veterans who have never met each other will meet here tomorrow, they'll have a great time, they'll hook up and enjoy the conversation, share stories, that kind of thing, so it is like a reunion."

While the event is primarily for veterans, anyone is welcome to come out.  

"When you get together with a group of veterans, you don't have to explain your acronyms. There's a certain language you all know," Wells said.

It's a reunion of people with things in common, but there is one big purpose.

"To make a difference, and every day is a chance to make a new beginning, and maybe the Stand Down will connect you to the resource, that will help you."

The event kicks off Friday at 9 a.m. with a ceremony for former Councilman W.L Pate, who was a long-time contributor to the Stand Down. 

Homeless veterans, others in need and their families will have access to social services resources and other assistance at the event.

Some of the services available include...

  • Clothing 
  • Shelter/Housing Information 
  • Information for the Disabled  
  • Medical Screenings 
  • Mental Health Screenings 
  • Legal Services 
  • COVID 19 Vaccinations 
  • Certification of Eligibility 
  • VA Claims & Benefit Information
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Info 
  • HIV/AIDS Information  
  • SNAP (Food Stamps) Information 
  • Help with DD214  
  • Services for Women Veterans  
  • Survival Benefits 
  • Duffle Bags (for those that qualify) 

If you're interested in donating to or volunteering for the event contact Belinda Richard at the Beaumont Vet Center at (409) 347-0124 or Bonnie Brooks at the Community Services Division of the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission at (409) 924-3381, ext. 6278.

From a news release...

The 2021 Stand Down for Homeless Veterans and Others in need will be held at the Beaumont Civic Center, 701 Main Street, Beaumont, Texas from 9:00am – 2:00pm on Friday, September 24, 2021.  This is a free event that will provide for homeless veterans, veterans searching for social services, and veteran families to give them access to specialized services, resources and assistance.

The Southeast Texas Stand Down – Beaumont is a collaborative effort among local veterans’ groups, military societies, veteran-related organizations and agencies, nonprofits, the City of Beaumont, faith-based organizations and community members that have joined together to remind local veterans that they are not alone.

Attendees of the Southeast Texas Stand Down 2021 – Beaumont – will receive assistance and/or information about employment, housing opportunities, legal assistance, as well as information pertaining to VA benefits, health screenings, counseling, food, hygiene kits and other related services.

According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment, on a single night in January 2020, 37,252 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S., eight percent of all homeless adults.  Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unsheltered veterans increased by six percent, offset by a three percent decline in sheltered veterans. Overall, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness remained unchanged, following considerable reductions in the population in prior years. Increases in unsheltered veterans occurred in all geographic types.

During wartime, Stand Downs occur when exhausted combat units requiring time to rest and recover are removed from battlefields and sent to a place of security and safety.  Early Stand Downs allowed military members to take care of personal hygiene, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, and fellowship in a safe environment.

The 2021 Stand Down Committee seeks to spread the word of the upcoming Southeast Texas Stand Down in Beaumont.  While the event seeks to target veterans, no one will be turned away from attending.  In addition, those interested in donating and volunteering for the event should contact Belinda Richard at the Beaumont Vet Center (409-347-0124) or Bonnie Brooks at the Community Services Division of the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission (409-924-3381, ext. 6278).

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