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Step Up to Help Your Fellow Vets


Last updated 6/21/2022 at 3:14pm | View PDF

What are you doing this summer? If you have spare hours or days, consider stepping up to help your fellow veterans. Stand Downs are a good place to start.

Stand Downs were started in California in 1988 by two veterans who saw the great need for services to homeless veterans. Over the years, the number of events and the veterans served has grown to include help from government agencies, veteran service organizations, groups and individual volunteers all across the county. The need is so great that many locations see hundreds of veterans lined up outside the door before they even open on the first day.

The list of help provided at each Stand Down can depend on the location and the length of the event (usually one to three days), but typically includes health screenings, clothing, showers and haircuts, food, legal advice, dental and eye-care services, mental health counseling, substance treatment referral, employment help, benefits counseling (both Department of Veterans Affairs and others, such as Social Security), housing referral and more.

The schedule of Stand Downs in 2022, whether you need services or want to help, can be seen at Keep an eye on that page because new events can be added at any time. Another page to watch is the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (

Or you can call your local VA medical facility and ask what's scheduled for your area. Best bet is to call them anyway and ask if the event is still planned due to COVID playing havoc with scheduling.

Ask about transportation, if you need it or can offer it. Sometimes an event will send a vehicle around to pick up veterans who have no other way to get to their local Stand Down.

If you're a veteran in crisis (either homeless or about to be) and can't wait for a Stand Down, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-424-3838.

(c) 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.


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