Because no Veteran should be without a place to call home, the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is committed to ending homelessness amongst the nation’s heroes.
Homelessness is an unfortunate reality for nearly 37,000 of America’s Veterans. Because no Veteran should be without a place to call home, the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is committed to ending homelessness amongst the nation’s heroes.
One way in which the Cincinnati VAMC assists Veterans experiencing homelessness, or those at risk for homelessness, is by hosting the Homeless Veteran Stand Down. The annual event unites Veteran advocacy organizations and community resource partners with VA healthcare professionals to offer Veterans the support needed to overcome homelessness. This year, the Homeless Veteran Stand Down brought lunches, hygiene kits, backpacks, and resources directly to homeless and at-risk Veterans in the Greater Cincinnati area, Oct. 7-8.
“Every year on the first Friday in October we have a stand down for homeless Veterans, usually with 50-plus vendors that offer help with housing, employment, clothing, telephones, food, and additional community services,” said Cincinnati VAMC Chief of Social Work Services Christie Watson. “This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to wrap everything into a smaller package.”
Moments after an announcement could be heard throughout the Domiciliary in Fort Thomas, KY, Veterans filed out of the main entrance and into a line where they would be greeted by Cincinnati VA Executive Medical Center Director Jane Johnson and the local DAV.
“On this overcast day, but with hints of sunshine, without any pomp and circumstances, our Veterans in the Domiciliary, residential substance abuse treatment program, and [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] residential program, with smiles under their masks, received two beautiful backpacks filled with gifts (toiletries, socks, t-shirts, snacks),” Johnson said. “Each and every Veteran received these gifts from our wonderful partners at DAV.”
Former U.S. Navy Seabee Tom Fogle was one of the Veterans from the Domiciliary who received two backpacks, job resources, and lunch provided by the Freestore Foodbank. According to Fogle, he’s going through a program at the Domiciliary that helps him with “picking up some tools” he lost along the way in life as he tries to “get back into the swing of things.”
In all, Johnson and volunteers gifted nearly 250 full backpacks to Veterans with the hope that the resources contained within the bags will help heroes in need.
“Even with a mask you could tell the Veterans were delighted and couldn’t believe they were receiving all of these goodies. They were so grateful,” Johnson said. “The DAV staff were lovely and greeted each and every Veteran, thanking each one for their service. The Veterans walked away with smiles and were then treated to a nice lunch.
“It was fantastic watching our volunteer staff working hand-in-hand with the DAV and bringing light and smiles to the Veterans,” Johnson continued. “I was so proud to witness such tenderness, kindness, and teamwork!”
For at-risk and homeless Veterans, the Cincinnati VAMC Homeless Veterans Community Outreach Division can assist with navigating various VA services that promote permanent housing and help Veterans realize their full potential. Services include housing programs, support for Veteran families, employment opportunities, specialized healthcare, and help with the justice system.
For more information about Homeless Veteran services, call 513-977-6800 or visit the Cincinnati VAMC Homeless Veterans website.