Community Stands Up for Veterans in Need
By Mariah Comoux
Special to the Outlook
The North Florida Fairgrounds hosted a community outreach program on April 24-25.
The program, “Homeless Veterans Stand Down,” assisted veterans with assistance in financial recovery, job placement, house stability and other programs to help rehabilitate them into the society they have fought selflessly to protect. The fairgrounds were transformed into a military camp ground where tents were propped up. Shower stations were also in for any veterans who needed to utilize the resources.
After being discharged, many veterans are faced with a harsh reality of trying to re-emerge to civilian life after returning from military service, according to event officials. The hardships they faced are overshadowed with the trials that they had to overcome.
The fairgrounds hosted between 300-400 veterans in its makeshift fort during the course of this weekend. Veterans received health care screenings, along with other outlets such as dental screenings, haircuts and permanent home placements opportunities.
“A lot of veterans face homelessness, with no access to health care or jobs, we are mainly out here trying to help each other,” said Paul, a stand down volunteer who is also a veteran, as he stood in front of an area that held bunks for veterans who have no place to sleep for the night. In the midst of our conversation a volunteer shouted out “chow time” signaling for veterans to get a hot lunch in the mess hall.
Numerous vendors came to lend support to the heroes in need such as: the Florida Veterans Foundation, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, The Bond Community Health Care Clinic and 101 Restaurant (catering).
While speaking with Bond Community Health care employee April Denton, she spoke about various programs that they’re mobile station would be offering including blood pressure screenings, body max index readings and also registered veterans with the Bond Health Care System. Other volunteers included active military personnel who also came out to lend a helping hand and volunteer for the event.
“I’ve been in the military eight months. I like the experience of helping and I volunteered because the veterans fought for our country. So I’m giving back for them. A lot of people have come out and volunteered,” said Daniel Arroyave.
“While this is not a long-term fix for many of the veterans, we are working at the homelessness aspect as a whole,” said Edward McCoy, a volunteer.
One veteran explained how he benefited from the event.
“I have been going through a lot of issues and this is giving me direction,” said John Hudson .