CHELSEA – In times of war, a stand down meant that exhausted soldiers could be removed from the battlefields to a place of safety. On Saturday that term was applied in a different, but equally helpful way.
“So we’re pulling our veterans, our homeless veterans, off the streets for a day,” said Homeless Stand Down Event Coordinator Susan Whittington.
Organized by the VA Maine Healthcare System, the 21st annual stand down is a way for homeless veterans to take advantage of the services at the Togus campus.
That includes medical help, housing resources, veteran’s benefits, and Mainecare.
“We have other veteran service organizations and folks associated with that, private citizens just lending a hand, donations,” said VA Maine Healthcare System Assistant Director Russell Armstead. “All of that kind of culminates to put together the resources to help homeless veterans get off the street and achieve permanent housing.”
There were over 200 staff and community volunteers helping out during the day. The event aims to help homeless veterans find housing, but it also shows them that there’s a network of support at the VA Center.
“We’re going to let you know that there’s an entire community,” said Whittington. “A VA and a Maine community out there to help you and your homelessness, and it’s not just about today or getting you housed, it’s about keeping you housed.”