Thursday, September 18, 2008

Despite flood losses, annual event for homeless vets marches on

Because of this summer’s flood damage in Cedar Rapids, the annual "Stand Down" for homeless and nearly-homeless veterans has been stripped down from three days to only one: Friday, Sept. 19, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 1599 Wenig Road NE.

"We lost our place and we lost every piece of donation and every [Veterans Administration] supply that we had in the basement at Veterans Memorial Colosseum," Linn County Veteran Affairs Director Don Tyne told The Cedar Rapids Gazette. "With the other social service agencies also impacted by the flood, they probably only had the assets to do a one-day event."

A Stand Down, according to the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego Stand Down’s step-by-step procedural manual (1995) “… is an intervention that was conceived from the ground up specifically designed for veterans. It is designed to transform the despair and immobility of the homeless into the momentum necessary to get into recovery, to resolve legal issues, to seek employment, to access health services and benefits, to reconnect with the community and get off the street."

Although veterans are the intended target of the Cedar Rapids Stand Down, the event is open to all non-veterans, homeless or near-homeless, as well.

Gauging the number of homeless veterans in Iowa or the Unites States is a difficult task, because it’s hard to track veterans once they leave the service and no records are kept on this population. However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999) estimates that veterans account for 23 percent of all homeless people in America.

The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free to attend. Showers will be provided and attendees will be provided food (breakfast and lunch will be served), clothing, assessment screenings and will have access to a number of community service providers, including representatives from the housing, employment, substance-abuse treatment and the VA and Social Security benefits counseling sectors.

Moreover, organizations such as the Area Substance Abuse Council, Iowa Legal Aid, the IRS, Social Security, the VA Substance Abuse Program and VA Medical and Mental Health will offer classes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Forty-one service organizations participated in last year’s Stand Down, which provided relief for 84 participants (55 veterans and 29 non-veterans).


Gary Baumgarten said...

I will be interviewing the lead singers of the band Goldenseal and they will be performing live their song, Streets of America, about homeless vets, at 5 PM New York time Tuesday October 14 on News Talk Online on Proceeds from sales of the album go to help homeless veterans.

Please go to and click on the Join The Show link to talk to musicians Joe Hughes and Danny Rongo.


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