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Savannah, Myrtle Beach communities host Stand Down

A VA employee assists a Veteran with applying for housing benefits during a past Stand Down event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo by Meredith Hagen.
A VA employee assists a Veteran with applying for housing benefits during a past Stand Down event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo by Meredith Hagen.

Each year, generally in the months leading into the harsher winter season, VAs across the country hold dedicated Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness events to outreach to Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and connect them with programs that can help.

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center will hold its main Charleston event on Oct. 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at VA’s Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) located at 2424 City Hall Lane in North Charleston.

“VA is dedicated to reaching every homeless Veteran and offering them the care and services they need to get back on their feet,” said Scott Isaacks, Charleston VA Medical Center Director. “Our goal is to partner with our communities to fully support each Veteran who struggles with homelessness – allowing them to hope and providing a safe, reliable space in which they can heal.”

Services and job support at Savannah Stand Down

On Sept. 4 and 5, the Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic operated by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, in partnership with Salvation Army, will host their annual Veterans Stand Down for Homelessness from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army Corps Community Center, 300 Bee Road. The event includes a resource fair on Sept. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and job fair on Sept. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the same location.

Participants are offered a hot meal, haircuts, clothing, personal items and opportunities for a variety of health screenings. Representatives from local community social service agencies will be available to provide information and outreach on a variety of services including housing options, job resources, substance abuse treatment, and access to VA services. This year will also feature new health services including dental services from H.C. Lewis Health Center and lung functioning screenings from Georgia Southern University’s Respiratory Therapy Department. The University will also lead education sessions on tobacco use and abstinence. The job fair is open to the public and local employers will be on site to fill positions.

The goal of the event is to reach individuals in crisis and connect them with programs and services that will end their homelessness. Stand Down is intended to serve homeless Veterans but is open to all individuals and families impacted by homelessness. According to statistics released by the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, 280 Veterans were homeless in Chatham County last year. These men and women have served their country and this event demonstrates the support they have in the Savannah community.

Each year area non-profits and community volunteers come out to support the event and ensure its success in connecting Veterans with critical assistance. Local universities provide volunteers and other resources during the event. In addition to the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic and Salvation Army, the following community partners are essential to providing all the resources available to Veterans at Stand Down: Savannah Vet Center, American Legion Post 500, Georgia Department of Veterans Services, Georgia Department of Labor, Disabled American Veterans, Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, Savannah State University, Chatham County Sheriff Department, Elks Lodge 183.

The Savannah Stand Down event is free to attend. If you are a local business interested in hiring and participating in the job fair, please call 912-201-8393.

Myrtle Beach community supports Grand Strand Veterans

Myrtle Beach’s 6th Annual Veterans Stand Down will take place on Sept. 27 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, located at 3392 Phillis Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. This year’s event is hosted by AARP South Carolina, Veteran’s Welcome Home and Resource Center, the Military Officers Association and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic and is supported by several other local Veteran service organizations.

Offerings at the event include: free dental and medical screenings, hot breakfast and hot lunch, clothing vouchers, non-perishable food items, haircuts, access to attorneys and addiction counselors, flu shots, free bus passes, housing assistance, women Veteran services, supportive services for Veterans and their families and more.

“The Myrtle Beach Veterans Stand Down embodies the spirit of our local community and each service providers’ effort to achieve our vision ‘Until there are Zero Homeless Veterans,’” said Scott Perez, Vocational Development Specialist at the Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic. Perez works throughout the year to serve as the liaison between the community and VA as they coordinate the annual event. He also orders, receives and stores surplus items from the Department of Defense – such as warm clothing, boots and backpacks – to redistribute to homeless Veterans at Stand Down. This year he procured more than 4,000 surplus items for this purpose.

“For those Veterans who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness, this is their event and this is their community saying ‘thank you for your service, now it is our privilege to serve you.’ The importance of this yearly event is that it keeps the homeless discussion going, it keeps us attentive and current to this vulnerable population’s health needs and above all, it allows us to stay true to President Lincoln by ‘Keeping the Promise,’” Perez said.

With the continued support of volunteers, civic and church groups, and businesses in Horry County, the Myrtle Beach Veterans Stand Down anticipates assisting close to 200 homeless and at-risk Veterans at this year’s event. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/horrystanddown.

Area Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can visit the CRRC, a VA outpatient clinic or the main medical center in Charleston, where homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.

Additional information about Charleston’s upcoming Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness event can be found at www.charleston.va.gov/standdown.

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