United by the theme of "No Man Left Behind", the Veterans Transitional Advocacy Board recently hosted the 8th annual Foothills Veterans Stand Down at CVCC's Tarlton Complex.
Stand Down is a term that originated during the Vietnam War used to describe the practice of removing combat troops from the field and taking care of their basic needs in a safe area. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the Stand Down was “a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations” where troops had access to clean uniforms, warm meals, medical and dental care, mail, and camaraderie, all in a safe environment.
Today, a Stand Down is a grassroots, community-based intervention to help homeless and needy veterans "combat" life on the street. It provides opportunity for veterans to renew their spirits, health and overall sense of well-being while connecting with other veterans that care.
While the Foothills Veteran Stand Down focuses on homeless and needy veterans, the Stand Down was open to all veterans from across Western North Carolina, with more than 325 veterans registered to attend this year's event. The day of the Stand Down, over 220 veterans took advantage of the free clothing/shoes/items and 100 veteran received free dental care. Participating veterans were also able to talk with more than 60 agencies about everything from resume assistance, tax preparation to counseling and mental health services.
Talking with Dr. Ric Vandett, one of the lead organizers of the Foothills Veterans Stand Down, the 25-person planning committee works tirelessly throughout the entire year in preparation for the Stand Down because "as veterans we care about ALL veterans and recognize some veterans need support in many areas."
In addition to the planning committee, the Foothills Veterans Stand Down would not be possible without a group of dedicated volunteers (close to 100), donors and sponsors (over 50 organizations and individuals contributed financially or through in-kind donations), community support and strong leaders. "I can't single out any one person or organization because it was a total team and community effort, but I do want to thank Dr. Garrett Hinshaw and Catawba Valley Community College for allowing us to hold the Stand Down on their campus," Vandett added.
The Foothills Veterans Stand Down remains an all volunteer event and the only one in North Carolina not otherwise sponsored by the VA.
To financially contribute to next year's Foothills Veterans Stand Down (100% of funds go directly to veterans in need), individuals can send checks to Foothills Veterans Stand Down (PO Box 1012, Lenoir, NC 28645). Additionally, next year's forms for volunteers, sponsors, and agencies on the group's web site soon (www.foothillsstanddown.com) or contact Dr. Ric Vandett directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Veterans Transitional Advocacy Board
The VTAB board was formed in 2010 out of the desire to repay our country's debt to its veterans. It is the intent of VTAB to provide temporary housing and brotherhood for veterans while they transition from homelessness and/or drug dependency back to the lifestyle of self-respect and self-reliance that was ensured for us all by their military service.
The goals of VTAB are as follows: 1. Educate the public on the needs of homeless veterans 2. To construct or support a facility to house veterans 3. Apply for grants to help fund housing 4. Seek local support from churches and communities 5. Coordinate with surrounding counties to initiate communication and ask for their cooperation 6. Establish relationships with surrounding counties to determine housing needs for homeless veterans 7. Advocate for the homeless
In an effort to fulfill the goals of VTAB, the group is the host agency for the Foothills Veteran Stand Down and the Unifour Veterans Helping Veterans. VTAB serves the community in addressing the 10 year plan to end homelessness, promotes awareness, and encourages dialogue relating to homeless and at risk veterans.