CareerSource Florida Crown (CSFC) and Veterans Affairs (VA) of Lake City Florida conducted a Veteran’s Stand Down on December 8, 2016. This Stand Down was a one-day event conducted at the American Legion Post #57. Available on-site were the Vet Center VET Center Van and Florida Licensing on Wheels. Participants were registered and then preceded inside the American Legion building to take advantage of the many services available. Numerous area organizations were brought together to serve seventy-four (74) veterans/disabled veterans.
CSFC partnered with the United Way, American Legion, VFW, Department of Veterans Affairs, Volunteers of America (VOA) and Supportive Services (SSVF) to provide a multitude of services. Upon arrival, veterans were provided a continental breakfast and the opportunity for haircuts. This was followed by medical and vision screening services provided by VA medical staff. VA personnel were on hand to answer questions and assist with enrollment, claims development and filing. Staff from VOA and Meridian Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) assisted with veterans that had housing issues. CSFC worked with area merchants and community organizations to acquire donations of clothing, toiletries, and restaurant gift certificates to distribute to the veterans.
CSFC worked through the Department of Defense surplus supply system to obtain military clothing, boots, sleeping bags, mosquito netting, and other supplies for distribution. American Legion volunteers prepared and served a hot lunch meal with homemade desserts prior to the distribution of clothing and supplies. All homeless veteran participants received rucksacks that contained 30 lbs of non-perishable food and a tote bag that contained underwear/t-shirts, socks, hats, gloves, boots, jeans, personal hygiene kits, and a small first aid kit that included band-aids, aspirins, antiseptic cream and bug repellant. As necessary, participants were also assisted with obtaining a Florida Identification Card.
CSFC believes that the services provided to these men and women were only a part of the function of the Stand Down. More importantly these veterans experienced companionship, compassion and camaraderie not usually afforded to them. The Stand Down also provided the community with the opportunity to connect with the homeless veteran population and focus its attention on the crisis of homelessness in our region.