Now in its twenty-first year, the Homeless Veterans Stand Down is an event that erects a three-day tent city in order to provide homeless veterans and their families from Southeastern Pennsylvania access to medical services, social services, clothing, food and camaraderie. More than 150 veterans attended this year’s event and, in some cases, volunteers helped them begin the process of getting off the streets and into transitional housing and treatment programs.
The term “Stand Down” is a military expression meaning to cease-fire and return to a place of safety to recover. This event aims to bring that same sense of security to struggling veterans by creating a central location where numerous services can be provided. With the help of various organizations, veterans are given the resources and support to recover and become self-sufficient.
Red Cross volunteers and staff of the Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) played important roles during the Stand Down event this year. A SEPA volunteer and staff member served on the planning committee, allowing the Red Cross to contribute a better plan to respond to the needs of this event. In addition, volunteers provided direct relief to veterans by giving out blankets and MRE/heater meals to participants and by serving coffee and refreshments to volunteers, staff, and local visiting dignitaries. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, visited from Washington DC to offer thanks and support for the event. American Red Cross Southeastern PA (SEPA) CEO, Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes spoke at the closing ceremonies
In all two dozen SEPA volunteers staffed a variety of roles during the three day Stand Down, including connecting veterans to services, developing an evacuation plan in the event of bad weather and providing first aid to attendees.
“The American Red Cross is proud to support the Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down,” SEPA staff member 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.”
The Red Cross looks forward to continuing to support this amazing event.