Hundreds of veterans are expected to turn out Wednesday at the Billings Homeless Stand Down, a daylong event designed to provide services to homeless veterans.
The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium, 1125 Broadwater.
Stand Downs, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are typically one- to three-day events providing homeless veterans with services such as food, shelter, flu shots, clothing, health screenings and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment.
Donations of clothing, sleeping bags and other items will be available to veterans. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated among local VAs, other government agencies and community agencies that serve the homeless.
The theme of the day is “No Veteran Left Behind.”
“It becomes important to all vets that they will be assured they are remembered,” said Edward Elhard, team leader of the Vet Center in Billings. “Through Stand Downs, society remembers that veterans have borne the battle. Stand Downs create a mechanism in place to safeguard all veterans no matter their financial situation. It creates a rendezvous for interested veterans, whether homeless or not, to share camaraderie with fellow veterans.”
With an estimated 108,000 veterans living in Montana, the Stand Downs play a significant role. In 2010, the VA has participated in and has provided partial funding and goods for seven Stand Down events throughout Montana. Events have been held in Bozeman, Glendive, Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Hamilton and Missoula. This is the second Stand Down in Billings this year, bringing the total to eight events in 2010. Nearly 200 veterans attended the one-day event in Billings in May.
Other events were equally as well-attended. Here's a snapshot of the numbers:
Great Falls, 942 veterans attended a three-day event.
Missoula, 332 veterans attended a one-day event.
Hamilton, 289 veterans attended a one-day event.
Bozeman, about 500 veterans attended a one-day event. It was Bozeman's first time for such an event.
Glendive, 129 veterans attended a two-day event. It was the first Stand Down for far Eastern Montana.
Helena, about 300 veterans attended a two-day event.
“Montana's homeless veterans have served their country. It's our job to serve them,” said Michael Molina, public-affairs officer for VA Montana Health Care System.
Stand downs allow these veterans to be served in one location by VA staff and other volunteers who understand their needs and have the expertise and resources to help them, he said.
Contact Cindy Uken at email@example.com or 657-1287.