Stand Down Vermont

Posted On September 26, 2012 By | No Comments on Stand Down Vermont

On Sept. 22-23, 2012, Marty Martinez, a members of the COTS Veterans Advisory Council, launched their first Stand Down event for homeless veterans in Vermont at the Winooski High School.

Martinez said he was motivated by the need he saw, given the latest census data; every night there are 60 homeless vets in the state of Vermont.  He wanted to use Stand Down to help find those 60 individuals and connect them with the services they needed to escape homelessness.

Blue Star Mothers of Vermont are organized to unite and support the families of those who are serving or who have served honorably in the military. They regularly volunteer at the COTS Canal Street Veterans Housing.

Martinez started organizing this event more than a year ago when he began writing grants to make his vision a reality. By connecting with Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts across the state, he was able to pin down most of those men and women and connect them with transportation to the Stand Down event.  The term “Stand Down” is a military term for a cease-fire or truce, such as “stand down for the Christmas holidays.”

The inspiration for the Vermont Stand Down came from the Stand Down held in San Diego, Calif., which annually serves about 1,000 homeless veterans during its three days.  In 1988, Stand Down launched as a health clinic/job fair/sobriety meeting event in response to the high veteran homeless rates after the Vietnam War.   Now, a lot of the men and women seeking services are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  For full coverage of the services Stand Down offers, view the 60 minutes clip on the 2010 event.

Martinez wanted to do something similar for the veterans in Vermont.   And of the approximate 60 homeless individuals every night in Vermont, 55 were present at the Stand Down in Winooski.  They came from all over the state.  A plethora of services were offered to those who attended.

Soldiers’ Angels provide aid and comfort to the men and women of the military and their families and work to improve the lives of a growing veteran population.

Some of the service providers present where the Blue Star Mothers of VermontVermont Veterans’ Place Inc.Soldiers’ Angels, Disabled American Veterans, the DMV, and the Department of Veteran Affairs.  The VA offered medical and psychiatric services to those who needed it. The Regular Veterans Association brought in barbers and hairdressers.

CCV offered education connections and Vermont Legal Aid helped out with legal services. Consumer Credit was there to help set up bank accounts and provide financial planning services.

The VFW and the Vietnam Veterans of America provided food for the two-day event, and the American Legion prepared it.  All the extra food was donated to the COTS Daystation.  The level of collaboration and community partnership that went into the success of this event is inspiring.

The RVA provided barbers and hairdressers.

Learn more about the COTS Canal Street Veterans Housing and Marty Martinez, who once struggled with homeless himself before connecting with services through COTS, here.

*Photo’s by Shirley Snelling-Sexton, Disabled Veteran Outreach Specialist – Department of Labor.  Shirley also provided job search and resume assistance at the event and is a participant of the Veterans Advisory Council.

Categories: COTS Shelters, Events, Homelessness, Veterans
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