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News: 3rd MDSC reaches out to homeless heroes during VA community stand down

Story by Master Sgt. Serbennia Davis and Sgt. Anthony Mitchell

Free medical treatment was given to homeless veterans Staff Sgt. Anthony Mitchell

Nearly 600 homeless veterans attended the annual Veterans Affairs Homeless Stand Down in Decatur, Ga. They were given free medical attention, meals, clothing, boots, sleeping bags and legal counsel.

DECATUR, Ga. – The Veterans Administration (VA) Acting Director of Healthcare for Homeless

Veterans, Iola Green, remembered over 600 homeless veterans during their Annual Community Stand Down.

“We provide outreach for veterans through local homeless services such as half-way houses, shelters and faith-based

organizations,” Green said during a recent interview with 3d Medical Deployment Support Command (MDSC)

Public Affairs staff. “This is our fifth year and we have VA Representatives at several homeless facilities throughout our community,” Green added.

“Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless veterans.

Services include providing homeless Veterans with food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security Benefits, counseling, housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. Most of all VA stand downs give Veterans something that can’t be bought which is, hope and dignity for a new start in life,” said Patricia Jordan, Director of Family Programs for 3d MDSC.
Provisional courtroom hearings were held in the VA auditorium for Vets without permanent addresses.

They were able to use the VA as their home of record. Judge Beryl Anderson, Chief Judge Magistrate and Judge Rethalia Stroud, Diversion Treatment Court along with their staff, were able to listen to misdemeanor court cases brought to them through Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Specialist, Robert Hairston.

“Many Vets continue to have anxiety issues and depression because of no employment. Small court issues, such as traffic tickets or driving under the influence (DUI) can cause them to spend a lot of time in jail because of minor charges,” Hairston explained.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts or inappropriate behavioral issues.

According to Mr. Hairston, “Soldiers get in trouble when they return home because they have serious problems dealing with everyday life. This is a chance to give a Vet a break.” The once-a-year Veterans Stand Down Court clears the veterans record and allow them a second chance.

“The Atlanta VA Stand Down for homeless veterans was one of the highlights in my career in terms of service to those who deserve it so much,” said 3rd MDSC Family Program Director, Patricia Jordon. Through team efforts, a last minute request from the VA was fulfilled by Soldiers and DA civilian staff in a matter of weeks.

“At 3d MDSC, we’ve collected over 500 hand sanitizers and other toiletry items that were given to homeless veterans,”
Jordan explained.

Many sources of information were given to Vets and information for their family members was also circulated.
“Family Programs sat up a table at the event and provided valuable information to homeless veterans on available resources and programs that could assist them in rebuilding their lives,” said Mrs. Jordan.

U.S. Army veteran, Sgt. Sonja Teal, U. S. Marine veteran, Cpl. Anita Hicks and U. S. Air Force veteran, Staff Sgt. Cheryl Triplett, were all very grateful to learn about family programs, the available services, and pick up gifts and information.

“I served in the Army for three years. I think that this is great!” said Sgt. Teal.

Mr. Patrick Fowler, 3rd MDSC Family Program Coordinator, told PAO staff, “We’re willing to help any veteran in the community whether they are Reservists or not.” This was mandated by the Department of Defense (DoD).

The VA Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Robin Brown shared, “The awesomeness about this event is how much the community pours out their heart to serve. No money is involved. Sometimes we have to turn away volunteers because we have so many of them. Today we have over 300 volunteers.” She also pointed out that, ‘Stand Down’ is a military term that Vets are familiar with and can relate. It is their chance to rest and get taken care of before getting back out on the battlefield of (Atlanta) streets.”

Unfortunately, for some veterans, “the battlefield could mean sleeping under a bridge or facing whatever issues that they must deal with in society,” Brown added.

For many, self pride sometimes prevents them from asking or accepting help from others. They think that they can handle it alone. Substance abuse or mental health issues might get in the way of receiving assistance.

“Everybody situation is different and they have different needs, said Dr. Farooq Amin, VA Chief of Mental Health.

“When they are ready, he said, “We get them the resources that they need. Referrals to the VA Homeless Program could be one of the resources provided to prepare for winter.” Dr Amin also mentioned, “We can’t help unless they say they are ready for help.”

The charming Tiffany Marshall, Mrs. Georgia State, mesmerized the crowd with her beauty while she mingled and socialized with the homeless veteran heroes. Mrs. Georgia State helped to boost the morales of the men and women that attended the Stand Down. “I’m just here to be cheerful,” she said. In hard times, it is sometimes difficult to remain motivated and keep a positive attitude.

The goals for the next homeless stand down are currently being discussed. Hopefully, there might be even more uniform Soldiers there to help support the event. “Although 3d MDSC participated in the event, my hope for the next Atlanta VA Stand Down is to see an increase in soldier involvement and participation from us as a Command.

The homeless veterans were so excited to see Soldiers in uniform at the event and it was obvious that seeing soldiers who were still active or in the Reserves provided optimism and a sense of renewal in their spirits. It was wonderful to see that we can serve Soldiers in so many ways, one step at a time,” said Patricia Jordan, 3rd MDSC Family Program Director.

In a recent news release Eric K. Shinseki, Veterans Affairs Secretary said, “As we drive toward our goal to end homelessness among veterans by 2015, VA continues to find innovative ways to permanently house veterans who were formerly homeless.

Under President [Barack] Obama’s leadership, we have made incredible strides in creating programs to aid these brave men and women who have served our Nation so well.”3rd Medical Deployment Support Command is proud to help the Atlanta Veterans Administration in raising the standards for aiding and assisting homeless veterans in the community. Through continued efforts to reach out and give a veteran a break, the command can help end veteran homelessness.

Homeless veterans should contact Acting Director of Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, Iola Green at

(404) 321-6111.

For upcoming 3rd MDSC events, registration details, dates, times and locations please contact, Patricia Jordon, Director Family Programs (404) 469-4319, email at patricia.a.jordan@usar.army.mil or Patrick Fowler, Family Programs Coordinator (404) 469-4118, email at patrick.fowler@usar.army.mil. Volunteers are needed and always
welcome.

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Public Domain Mark
This work, 3rd MDSC reaches out to homeless heroes during VA community stand down, by MSG Serbennia Davis and SSG Anthony Mitchell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:10.20.2012

Date Posted:10.24.2012 22:37

Location:DECATUR, GA, USGlobe

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