Recently, while visiting a friend at the Wheaton Police Department, Chicago Standdown for Homesless Veterans cards were displayed for people to read and take. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that the cards were for a much earlier event that happened last month which gave this writer an inspiration to try to spread the word about this great event so that people could already mark their calendars so that they could sign up to volunteer next year.
The Chicago Standdown for Homeless Veterans took place during Friday, June 26th and Saturday, June 27th at the General Jones Armory, located at 5200 South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Homeless veterans in the area had to have been so appreciative of the love and care that they received that weekend!
Services such as the following were offered to the men and women that served our country and now live on our streets:
· 5 meals with a Sack Supper to go on Saturday, June 27th
· Medical services
· Optical services
· Housing information/applications
· VA benefit information, review of possible discharge upgrades
· Standdown Photo IDs
· Department of Human Services and Social Security information/applications
· Employment opportunities
· Legal Assistance
· Haircuts, clothing, entertainment, recreational activities
· Women’s services
· Friendship, bonding, and camaraderie
It is very sad for many of us to realize that a ‘day’ has been created to offer human services to those that were willing to give their lives for our freedom, but at least Vietnam veterans Robert Van Keuren and Jon Nachison thought to design Standdown for these individuals in need of assistance!
The two veterans began their services in 1988 in San Diego. They were inspired by the fact that during times of war, the combat units in Vietnam were exacted from the battlefield and taken to a place of relative security and safety in order to rest and recuperate from the throes of battle. Thus the two men designed their grassroots intervention for homeless veterans which spread its way across the nation to Chicago in 1993 and has been growing ever since.
Of course, the first local event that was held in Humboldt Park was a mass of stumbling and fumbling by volunteers, veteran organizations, as well as community service providers committed to the cause. Ideas sprung up and have grown over the years and now Chicago not only hosts the summer Standdown, but also offers a winter Standdown to get the veterans necessary supplies to last them through the harsh Midwest winters we experience here in Chicago.
Now that you know a little about this great volunteer event. How many of you will actually step up to the plate and help those that provided for the freedoms that we all experience everyday of our lives?