Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Stand Down Against Homelessness
Each year, Palmetto Goodwill and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center take the fight against homelessness to the streets with their annual Stand Down Against Homelessness Event.
The event is modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War where troops took care of personal hygiene, received clean uniforms, enjoyed warm meals and obtained medical and dental care. Stand Down affords struggling veterans and local homeless the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.
But Goodwill and the VA’s fight against homelessness does not end there, it is a year round battle. Goodwill has committed $800,000 in direct funding for the VETS program, which helps homeless veterans reintegrate back into the workforce. Goodwill also hosts the Undy 500, an annual motorcycle charity ride that benefits the Stand Down event as well as collects new undergarments to be distributed to veterans during the two-day event.
With more than 150,000 homeless veterans in the United States on any given night, it is an essential mission for the VA to strive to eliminate homelessness amongst those who have served our nation. In Charleston, the VA has an active Homeless Veterans program that provides health care, shelter, case management, rehabilitation and employment assistance to veterans.
Goodwill and the VA partner together not only for the Stand Down, but throughout the year in order to ensure struggling veterans receive the assistance needed. This partnership has produced many success stories of veterans who have reestablished their lives.
Mary Ann Mason was a Navy veteran with no job and an addiction to alcohol when she realized it was time to get her life together for her daughter. She reached out the VA for help and entered into their rehabilitation program. Once completing the program, the VA referred Mary Ann to Goodwill where she was enrolled in their VETS program. She went on to complete 40 hours of Custodial Management Institute, a nationally recognized certification program that includes classroom and on-the-job custodial training.
But Mary Ann didn’t stop there. She is now employed as an employment specialist at the VA. Mary Ann works with homeless veterans and is an inspiration to those who are finding their way off of the streets as she once did. Because of the VA, Goodwill and Mary Ann’s determination, her life is now on a much different path.
Mary Ann is just one of the success stories due to the partnership between Goodwill and the VA. But there are still many more veterans who need help. So Goodwill and the VA will continue the fight.