"Stand Down" event helps local veterans

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Friday, at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, it was all about reaching out and connecting with local veterans.

The Oak Arbor-sponsored event called "Stand Down" provided them with vital information about benefits they are entitled to as well as food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health services.

Oak Arbor Employment Coordinator Rebecca Ford said, "Our goal is to get them off of the streets today. Whatever it is that we can do to decrease the homeless population in our area."

The Oak Arbor homeless veterans reintegration program reaches out to the men and women who once served our country but are now having a hard time finding their place in society.

Whether they need supplies or services, the annual Stand Down event is aimed at helping local veterans like Robert Green and Ron Wright rebuild their lives.

"It informs us of more opportunities we have and how the V. A. can help us. There are more people willing to help than we know about," Green said.

Wright has been to a lot of Stand Down events over the years and feels they are really beneficial. "They tell everybody about the benefits they can get, because there are always new benefits for veterans," Wright said.

Ford said it can be extremely hard to access all of the different resources, especially when veterans are homeless and have no transportation.

"32 different vendors came out, to offer them whatever services that they need," she said. "They can get sleeping bags, back packs, toiletry items. If they need a shower and clean clothes and of course, if they need any type of alcohol or drug treatment Pine Belt Mental Health is here."

Green said, "It's opening up more doors for us, we just have to walk through them."

"This is a really good thing, America needs to get more into this," said Wright.

Nearly 100 veterans attended the Stand Down event.

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