Veterans Get Hand Up During Minnesota’s 21st Veteran StandDown

The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) has a mission: Provide for Minnesota’s struggling homeless and underserved veterans and their families. Their vision is to see these veterans and their families succeed through comprehensive measures.

A volunteer vet makes his way around during The 21st annual Metro Area Veterans StandDown Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at the Fort Snelling's Boy Scout Base Camp, in Fort Snelling MN. Photo released: David Joles

A volunteer vet makes his way around during The 21st annual Metro Area Veterans StandDown Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at the Fort Snelling‘s Boy Scout Base Camp, in Fort Snelling MN. Photo released: David Joles

This certainly was the case this last week as MAC-V hosted it’s 21st Veteran’s Stand Down. The two day event held at Fort Snelling’s Boy Scout Base Camp in Minnesota drew nearly 900 veterans seeking services. These veterans were provided with a range of services from a medical clinic, hot meals, clothes, benefit information, hygiene kits, legal advice, housing and employment assistance, mental health resources, to haircuts and much much more.

Air Force Vietnam vet Thomas Grinnen got a free haircut from styist Rebekah Way of Sports Clips in Coon Rapids during The 21st annual Metro Area Veterans StandDown Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at the Fort Snelling's Boy Scout Base Camp, in Fort Snelling MN. Photo released David Joles

Air Force Vietnam vet Thomas Grinnen got a free haircut from styist Rebekah Way of Sports Clips in Coon Rapids during The 21st annual Metro Area Veterans StandDown Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at the Fort Snelling’s Boy Scout Base Camp, in Fort Snelling MN. Photo released David Joles

What is a stand down? 

In the MAC-V’s own words:

In times of war, exhausted combat units requiring time to rest and recover were removed from the battlefields to a place of relative security and safety. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment.

Today, StandDown refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. Homeless veterans are brought together in a single location for one to three days and are provided access to the community resources needed to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives. In the military, StandDown afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Today’s StandDown affords the same opportunity to all veterans, a brief respite, creating an atmosphere conducive to change and recovery.

In other words the idea behind the stand down is to bring many services to one location as possible and make them more accessible to ALL veterans who otherwise may not seek out services or take advantage of benefits due to them.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans' StandDown event, which brings many veterans services to one location.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans’ StandDown event, which brings many veterans services to one location.

What happens at a StandDown? 

Veterans are provided with a broad range of free necessities and resources in a hand up not hand out type of manner. These free necessities and resources can even extend to the veteran’s dependents. All the veteran has to do is show up.

The original Stand Down for homeless Veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations.

The original Stand Down for homeless Veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations.

How many Veteran’s are helped with this type of program?

This year over 900 veterans accessed the StandDown’s needed resources over a 2 day period.

The MAC-V generally receives over 25,000 veteran requests over the course of a year beyond that of what the StandDown brings in.  On average over 1,000 new veterans require MAC-V assistance each year. The following is an overall break down of demographics for the veterans that MAC-V serves:

Men – 90%, – 10%
Veterans with families assisted – 25% of the total veteran’s helped
Veterans from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq – 27% (and this number is rising)
Veterans with a disability – 70% of total veteran’s helped.

Striving to serve those who served us first: Vet’s MAC-V and StandDown Stories: 

John
John, 23, suffered TBI (traumatic brain injury) as a result of multiple IED attacks while serving in Iraq. John recently moved to Minnesota with his wife. The couple lived in a cabin – more like a shack – without heat or hot water, on land owned by his family. This cabin was all John and his wife could afford on John’s Service Connection award of $232/month, which was their only income. Because of the harsh living conditions and John’s meager income, he and his wife were unable to support their child who was left in the care of family in another state.

With MACV’s support, John and his wife have been reunited with their daughter and moved into a house furnished with items donated by community members. An upgrade to a higher level of service-connected benefits is in process. In the mean time, John and his family are being helped by MACV and county assistance in a collaborative effort to assist with food, medical insurance, utility costs, car insurance, and school supplies for their daughter. This is just the beginning; MACV will continue to work with John and his family to help ensure they achieve the quality of life they deserve.

Richard
Often it is just a matter of short-term training, a refresher course, or updating existing skills and abilities that make a difference in getting a job offer or not. Richard C. a divorced, 58-year-old decorated Vietnam Veteran with a Vietnam Campaign Medal, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge lost his job due to downsizing and was unable to secure other employment (mostly due to his age). He was within weeks of homelessness. With our assistance, Richard decided to go back to school to complete his renewable energy training in order to become a Renewable Energy Certified Associate. Classes consisted of Solar Space Heating Systems, Solar Water Heating Installation Lab, Solar Hot Water System design, Intermediate Photovoltaic training, and Photovoltaic Site Assessor training. With these classes, Richard had the training and skills to be competitive to secure another job and continue a successful career.

Jodie
Jodie is a single 34 year-old Gulf War veteran and a mother of two. She had been working with a temporary employment agency when her job was terminated after only three months. She used her remaining savings for rent, but she struggled to keep up and was given a notice to vacate her apartment.

Jodie came to MACV seeking assistance with her rent. MACV was able to assist her with finding a job making $15 an hour. After helping with her first month’s rent, Jodie was able to keep her apartment and maintain her household.

Are you a MN veteran in need of assistance? Perhaps you wish to help coordinate a StandDown for veterans in your neighborhood.

Contact MACV Headquarters: 

Address: 360 Robert Street N, Suite 306
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651.291.8756
Eamil: mac-v@mac-v.org
Facebook: Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans 

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