PRESTONSBURG – Operation Stand Down will be held at the National Guard Armory in Prestonsburg on Wednesday, April 20, beginning at 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. The purpose of Operation Stand Down according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is to help deliver needed services to homeless veterans. Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community –based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 107,000 homeless veterans on any given night “combat” life on the streets.
The original Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.
That is the purpose of the Stand Down for homeless veterans, and achieving those objectives requires a wide range of support services and time. The program is successful because it brings these services to one location, making them more accessible to homeless veterans.
In July 2002, the founders of Stand Down – Robert Van Keuren, Dr. Jon Nachison and Vietnam Veterans of San Diego – asked the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) to become the “keeper of the flame” and provide national leadership for the movement. Since the first Stand Down in San Diego in 1988, the program has become recognized as the most valuable outreach tool to help homeless veterans in the nation today.
Mountain Comprehensive Care became a champion for homeless veterans when they built the areas first transitional housing specifically targeting homeless veterans. Located at 152 Douglas Parkway in Pikeville, MCCC Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing has 25 beds available to serve veterans in need. Residents will be provided housing and supportive services for a maximum of two years. The standard treatment time-frame for veterans to gain the necessary life skills to regain stable housing ranges from six to nine months. Both the VA and MCCC Veterans Transitional Housing Center will work together to assist veterans in applying for any federal, state and local veterans’ benefits they may qualify for.
To be qualify for housing at MCCC – VTHC, veterans must meet certain eligibility requirements: Must be homeless or at risk of being homeless. Discharge from service cannot be a Dishonorable. Meet income guidelines. Must have at least six months of active service (not Reserve or National Guard time). Cannot be a registered sex offender, Cannot be a violent offender such as murder or manslaughter. Must be willing to relocate to the center (Eastern Kentucky). Must be willing to participate in the Center’s programs. Must be willing to remain positive during their time of transition.
Another organization taking action to help homeless veterans is the VFW Post 5839 located in Floyd County.
“Our facility will house not only homeless veterans, but also their family if needed, and will be located next to the VFW Post in Prestonsburg,” said Calvin Howell, VFW member. “The facility should house about 24 people.”
The facility, unlike the MCCC facility, will be funded by individual donations and will not be seeking government grants. The center will be the first of its kind in the state of Kentucky. A ground breaking ceremony is scheduled to take place in April. VFW members hope to open the shelter before the spring of 2017.
All veterans needing assistance of any kind is encouraged to attend.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for the Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 794-0290.