This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Annual Delaware Valley VA Homeless Veterans Stand Down, an event that erects a three-day tent city providing homeless veterans and their families with access to medical services, social services, clothing, food and camaraderie. More than 150 veterans participated this year, with many getting off the streets, into transitional housing and treatment programs.
The term “Stand Down” is often used in the military to express the action of cease-fire and returning to a place of safety to recover. This nationwide program aims to bring that same sense of security to at-risk veterans by providing a central location where numerous supportive services are offered. With the help of various governmental and non-profit organizations, veterans are given the resources and support to recover and become self-sufficient.
“The American Red Cross is proud to support the Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down,” SEPA Service to the Armed Forces Specialist Ryan McGoldrick said. “This event is so important because many vets aren’t aware of all the supportive programming available to them. It’s a great opportunity then for us to give comfort to veteran participants one-on-one and to help connect them with valuable services.”
Red Cross volunteers and staff of the Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) played an integral role in helping out during the Stand Down event this year. In fact, a SEPA volunteer and staff member served on the Stand Down planning committee throughout the year, allowing Red Cross to contribute a better plan to respond to the needs of this event.
Learning that in past years, the event was often impacted by severe weather which once even shut down operations early, the SEPA Chapter’s Disaster Service Technology (DST) team put into effect a monitoring, evacuation, and sheltering plan for the event. A shelter walkthrough and training for Red Cross volunteers and Stand Down staff was conducted the week prior to the event and during Stand Down, DST monitored for severe weather and other hazards around the clock.
Along with evacuation and shelter planning, Red Cross volunteers provided direct relief to veterans by giving out Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces information, blankets and MRE/heater meals to participants and by serving coffee and refreshments to volunteers, staff, and local visiting dignitaries. DST also deployed two CPR/First Aid trained volunteers per shift to walk the grounds to monitor for hazards and report back on any issues.
The Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania provided more than twenty volunteers for five days throughout set-up and during the event to staff a variety of roles. Stand Down is great opportunity for the Red Cross to serve struggling veterans and to connect them to services that will hopefully help them after they leave the tents.
Related link: Stand Down Photo Gallery