Stand Down offers homeless veterans financial guidance, compassion
Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Moses Relff knows what a Stand Down event can do.
It has provided him with housing, and he hopes it also can provide some financial security in compensation for the benefits he says he has been waiting for since his time serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“I came here to make sure the homeless veterans are treated right,” he said at a homeless Stand Down event on Thursday sponsored by the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.
The event, which continues today at the Montgomery State Farmers Market on Federal Drive, helps veterans secure housing and also helps with everything from finding them a source of income to providing haircuts.
“We bring our services, along with the community, to the streets to offer services to the homeless veterans that may not normally access the VA,” said Tyrinda Carver Hall with the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program with the CAVHCS.
The Stand Down in Montgomery has taken place for 10 years, growing every year in the number of agencies and organizations taking part in the event. This year, 40 agencies and organizations are reaching out at the Stand Down, including community partners, local banks, restaurants and social services agencies. The theme this year, Hall said, is “financial literacy.”
“That’s why we really partnered with a lot of the different banks and financial agencies because we want our veterans back on their feet to have that good financial education to maintain their homes and live those good lives.”
Founded in San Diego in 1988, the Stand Down event was started with the goal of fostering belief in the triumph of the human spirit over extraordinary odds, according to the Veterans Village of San Diego.
It grew out of a conviction that the overwhelming number of homeless veterans on the streets of America is unacceptable and that the veteran community itself must respond. It is an intervention that was conceived from the ground up specifically for veterans, by veterans, according to the group.
The three goals for the veterans are housing, income and addressing personal issues such as legal problems.
The CAVHCS expects to serve between 200 to 300 homeless veterans this week. Last year, about 300 veterans and their families were served.
In military life, a stand down is a time to stop operations and focus on areas of concern. The Stand Down event in Montgomery will provide the homeless veterans a time to rest and regroup and to access several services at once.
Tamara Ward, program coordinator for the cosmetology department at H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College, said the college wanted to give back.
“Just wanted to do our part to show our appreciation for the sacrifices that the veterans have made on our behalf,” she said. “And we’ll be giving haircuts.”
Relff sits in a wheelchair, both legs amputated, and talks while an American flag attached to his chair slowly waves in the breeze.
“I was in Vietnam and Germany and in Desert Storm,” he said, “And we became totally disrespected. Those returning from Afghanistan ... they are receiving greater recognition, and their benefits, faster.
“I’m looking for compensation and recognition. We all need that. I think that’s why there are so many homeless people. I think that’s why they are out here today, because they are not getting what they deserve.”