200+ Homeless Triad Veterans to Get Free Services

5:59 AM, Sep 27, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than 200 homeless veterans in the Triad can get free health care and other assistance Friday at the eighth Triad Stand Down event at Westover Church on 505 Muirs Chapel Road.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, veterans can receive a wide range of services, including haircuts, hot meals, showers and clothing.  They also can receive assistance with benefits or claims, locating permanent housing and legal advice.  Dental, eye and health screenings, as well as educational support, also will be available.

"Last year, we served 240 homeless veterans.  That was up 30 percent from the prior year.  Each year, we see an increase, and I'm hoping it's just because veterans know more about our services, and the problem's not getting worse.  But, I'm hoping people would come out, so we can kind of break that cycle of homelessness," said Servant Center executive direcor Shanna Reece.

The Servant Center is the primary sponsor of the event, which has garnered support from 52 local organizations and even state and federal agencies.

Event organizers said buses began at 7 a.m. from local homeless shelters and VAs.  They explained they have been posting signs at those places, as well as in areas in which homeless individuals tend to sleep, in order to promote Friday's event.

Organizers said they do not need any more volunteers for this year's event and are thankful for the community's effort to come forward and help.  Disabled veteran outreach program consultant Steven Miller said if the public wants to help, he suggests assisting with awareness efforts and volunteering at local shelters throughout the year.

"Some of it is just spreading the news, because a lot of times...veterans are not all on corners.  And a lot of them don't go to the shelters.  They don't get out. But, almost everybody knows somebody, and if you get that person and spread to them and just tell them, 'Go in and try it. Come talk to us.'  We've got four veterans that work with veterans," Miller said.

Event organizers said if people wish to sign up to volunteer time and services for next year's Triad Stand Down, they can contact the Servant Center. 

According to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, there are an estimated 62,000 veterans nationwide who are homeless on any given night. Miller explained why there are so many homeless veterans in the Triad.

He said a large majority of the veteran population is older and from the Vietnam era, in which there was a large misconception of how the VA treated veterans.  So, he said many veterans did not file claims or seek medical assistance.

"And the PTSD was such a thing, and it brought them down to such a level that they couldn't hold down jobs, and they couldn't keep their houses.  They didn't have cars, so a lot of them self-medicated, largely.  So, they ended up in shelters, and from the shelters, they just kind of decided that instead of having rules, to become part of the homeless community.  And incredibly, that's a large population of people that is living under overpasses, train stations. It's incredible," Miller said.

WFMY News 2