LIMA — For a variety of reasons, the transition from military service to civilian life can often be a difficult one for American veterans, which can result in a lower standard of living, even to the point of homelessness.
To help address the issue of veterans in need, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has held events known as Stand Downs to both help veterans meet immediate needs as well as link them to services to help improve quality of life in the long term.
“Our goal is to find homeless veterans or people who may be imminently homeless or living without the resources we can provide for them,” according to Katina Stone-Jones, chief of social work for the Dayton VA. “A Stand Down is when we bring all our services out to try to look at how we can connect veterans or families with financial services, counseling services, nursing home or medical foster homes, and we invite the community partners out to join out because this is not something that the VA can conquer on its own.”
Supplies for veterans included such items as sleeping bags, thermal gear, boots, toiletries and other items, with agencies and organizations like Ohio Means Jobs and Lots for Soldiers on hand to educate veterans about available services. Medical examinations, haircuts and even nail care were made available for veterans during the event.
“I love this,” Patricia Markowski of the Ohio National Guard Troop and Family Assistance Center said. “It’s my passion. The more people know what’s available to them, the more we can help. I want every veteran to know that once you’ve entered the military and you’re out, you’re still part of a family. If we can help one veteran connect with a service they didn’t know was available, it’s worth it.”
The event also gave area veterans the chance to get reconnected to each other, according to Allen County Veterans Commission President Steve Montgomery.
“I’m enjoying this, the camaraderie of being around them,” he said. “This is a great thing, bringing all these things in for all the veterans. The ones I have talked to in here have said that this is fantastic.”