Help or be helped at Stand Down

To the editor,

“Stand Down” is a military term that was used when soldiers returned from combat and needed a safe place to recover and regroup before heading back into battle. They were provided warm meals, showers and clean uniforms. The first stand down for homeless and at-risk low-income veterans was hosted in 1988 by the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego. Robert Van Keuren was a Vietnam veteran who saw many homeless veterans and their struggles, and he wanted to help these homeless veterans. He created an event like the military stand downs to offer hope, direction and support to the many homeless veterans in his community. Many were apprehensive about getting any help, so he created an environment that was safe, encouraging and uplifting.

As a result of his efforts, Stand Downs are held each year across the county to help homeless and at-risk veterans regain their self-esteem and direct them in a positive direction, in a caring way, away from the struggles and hardships they have been carrying around for so long.

Stand downs can last from one to three days. They provide immediate relief and short-term or long-term assistance, depending on the needs of the veteran. The services provided include but are not limited to showers, warm meals, haircuts, drug and alcohol counseling, medical and dental care, employment counseling and referrals, warm clean clothing, help with legal and tax problems, VA benefits counseling and assistance, housing services, and counseling.

The annual Four Corners Veterans Stand Down takes place Thurs., Oct. 5, from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. It is an opportunity for the community to come together to support these men and women who gave their all to protect our way of life and to show them the resources and support available to them in their communities.

We are seeking volunteers to provide resource tables for the veterans this day. For more information about this event or how you can help, contact Peggy at 970-247-8589 or Jana at 970-749-1673 or email them at standdowndurango@gmail.com. Or visit the web site at www.standdowndurango.com/.

– Richard Schleeter, Veteran’s Services, La Plata County