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This Thursday Bloomington will host the third annual South Central Indiana Veterans Affairs Stand Down.
A large group of locally based service organizations, along with the City of Bloomington and the Monroe County government, will sponsor the local effort to help American military veterans facing housing problems and poverty.
Mary-Jane McNabb, a social worker with the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs, explains the origins of the Stand Down.
“Back in the Vietnam era, when soldiers came back from the field, they would come back to what’s called a ‘stand down’ where they got fresh clothing or new shoes or whatever they needed,” McNabb says, “The idea behind the Stand Down now is to provide veterans that are experiencing homelessness to services like free haircuts, flu shots and helping them get signed up for any government benefits they might need. We want to put all these things in one location to make things easy.”
The Stand Down project is a national, collaborative effort between local offices of the veteran’s administration, federal, state, and local government agencies, and community organizations who serve the homeless.
“Just having all the support from the community has been invaluable,” McNabb says, “Without that, we wouldn’t be able to do as much as we can. After the VA provides the opportunity for the event, then the community steps in and takes over. Hopefully this year we hope to reach out to more veterans in surrounding counties.”
Veterans who attend the event will receive essential supplies such as clothing, hygiene kits, blankets, gloves, scarves and other basic supplies.
“I’m a social worker so I continue to see a lot of these veterans on a regular basis and seen how the Stand Down has benefited them through the years,” McNabb says.
The local Stand Down is Thursday October 17 from 10 am to 2 pm, at the American Legion, Post 18, located on West Third Street in Bloomington.
A free lunch will be provided. The Shalom Community Center will provide a free shuttle service to and from the event every fifteen minutes.
Attendees must provide proof of their veteran status in order to be admitted, with either a Defense Department Form 214 or a VA issued identification card.