On Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, the gymnasium floor of the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, N.C. will convert to a one-stop service center filled with 78 vendors whose sole focus will be on military veterans who are homeless.
Their goal: provide information, services, counseling and connection to assistance for the more than 350 veterans expected to come out for the 2011 Mecklenburg County Veterans Stand Down from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center on 310 North Kings Drive in Charlotte. The veteran's family members can receive services, too.
The Stand Down is a national event created to reach out to veterans who are homeless. Local organizers say the term "stand down" was created during the Vietnam conflict to describe the and relaxation time troops were allowed away from combat. The event is supported by donations, a grant from the Veterans Affairs Department and volunteers. The Law Office of Paul M. Goodson is the event Gold Sponsor.
In Mecklenburg County a Stand Down Committee, made up of diverse community service agencies, business, civic and veterans groups and local government, plans the annual event. Mecklenburg County government's Community Support Services and two of the department's divisions -- Veterans Services Office and Homeless Support Services -- lead the partnership along with the County's Park and Recreation Department.
Tuesday's event will include an opening ceremony at 10:10 a.m. and several services offered throughout the day. Participants will have one-stop access to assistance and community resources. Hot meals, medical and dental care, social activities, personal hygiene care, clothing and help applying for military benefits will be available. Medical checks such as blood pressure, diabetes, and AIDS testing will be available, along with referrals for mental health, substance abuse, VA benefits, housing, job placement and education opportunities.
In previous years the Mecklenburg County Stand Down took place in March. However, organizers decided this year to move the event to the fall to give participants access to the clothing, boots, blankets and other items that will be needed in the colder months leading up to and during the winter. The event offers service to veterans from Mecklenburg County and from surrounding counties in the region.