Stand-Down connects needy veterans with services

Annual event provides food, clothing, bedding and health screenings

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: 2013 Veterans Stand-Down.

Where: Armed Forces Reserve Center, 15005 N.E. 65th St.

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Shuttle: Leaves the Veterans Assistance Center, 1305 Columbia St., on the hour, starting at 8 a.m.; leaves WorkSource, 5411 E. Mill Plain Bvld., on the half-hour, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Veterans in need will be able to find immediate assistance and access some long-term services Wednesday in the annual "stand-down."

The Clark County Veterans Assistance Center is organizing the event, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 15005 N.E. 65th St.

Veterans and their family members can get meals and haircuts; pick up clothing, bedding and hygiene kits; and get health and dental screenings.

Agency representatives will discuss long-term help, including Veterans Affairs personnel who can provide information on medical and education benefits.

People from community-based organizations also will be available to discuss housing assistance, employment services and counseling.

It will be the second year in a row the stand-down has been held at the Armed Forces Reserve Center just south of Fourth Plain Boulevard and Ward Road in Orchards.

It's a veteran-friendly setting, with a lot of young people in uniform who can put them at ease, said coordinator Joe Fettig, a volunteer at the Veterans Assistance Center.

The stand-down served about 185 veterans last year. Organizers are hoping that better shuttle connections will increase the turnout to more than 200.

Veterans' identification is required for some stand-down benefits, particularly those involving the distribution of government-surplus property such as boots and clothing.

Fettig said he knows that some veterans might trash-can all links to their military past. At one point following his own service in the Vietnam War, "I had no desire to talk to the VA," Fettig said.

The stand-down gives those vets a chance to reconnect with the VA.

The Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, 1305 Columbia St., became the stand-down organizer a year ago as a way to expand its outreach. The nonprofit center is affiliated with the county's Veterans Assistance Fund, which is part of Clark County Community Services.

The Veterans Assistance Center served more than 3,500 vets from March 2011 through May 2013, said outreach director Keith Scott.

During that span, volunteers logged more than 18,000 hours providing supplies, referring veterans to service providers or helping them deal with paperwork.

"When all they ask for is a pack and a sleeping bag, you know they're homeless," Scott said.

The volunteers also see some turnarounds, when a veteran comes to update them -- and they don't recognize him."You say, 'May I help you?,'" Fettig said. "They say, 'You don't remember me?'"

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.