Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Upcoming Stand Down Events 2017
During the months of September and October, Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness events are held in Savannah, Georgia, and in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina. The goal of the events is to reach individuals in crisis and connect them with programs and services that will end their homelessness.
During the last 10 days of January, the Point-In-Time (PIT) count, is conducted nationwide by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The purpose is to get a count of homeless persons, including Veterans, in the U.S. and to gain an understanding of the demographics and barriers to housing to better serve this population. The national data from 2017’s PIT count has not been released yet, but according to a story in The Post & Courier, early data shows that organizations in the Charleston area counted about 20 percent fewer homeless residents than last year. Because it is difficult to count every single homeless person, the decline is likely not this steep, but this year’s PIT count does reflect a decrease—moving in a positive direction in the City of Charleston.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has an active homeless program that assists Veterans with safe housing, employment, health care and mental health services. In June 2015, the medical center opened the Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC), to help Veterans who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The CRRC is located at 2424 City Hall Lane in North Charleston and helps Veterans build a foundation of health care, job training education, emotional support, and financial resources to get back on their feet. At this location, VA employees work alongside community partners to help turn each Veteran’s tale into a success story and make sure they find their way home.
In fiscal year 2016, Charleston VAMC’s homeless program permanently housed 584 Veterans, that is 86 more than last year and 164 more than 2014.
“The end goal would be to no longer have to hold Stand Down events, because all of the Veterans in our area have a place to call home,” said Charleston VA’s Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health Dr. Hugh Myrick.
Savannah’s 14th year hosting Stand Down
On Sept. 19, the Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic, in partnership with Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, Savannah VET Center, Chatham County Sheriff’s Department, Savannah State University, Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia Department of Veterans Services, Goodwill of the Coastal Empire, Salvation Army, and The American Legion, will host their 14th Stand Down Against Homelessness and Job Fair at the Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will be offered hot meals, haircuts, showers and opportunities for a variety of health screenings. Representatives from more than 40 social service agencies will be available to provide information and outreach on a variety of services including housing options, job resources, substance abuse treatment, and access to VA services. For the second year in a row, health services including dental services from H.C. Lewis Health Center and lung functioning screenings from Armstrong State University’s Respiratory Therapy Department will be available. The University will also lead education sessions on tobacco use and abstinence.
The event will continue on Sept. 20 with a Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the same location. Local employers will be on-site and ready to fill positions.
According to statistics released by the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, 286 Veterans were homelessness in Chatham County last year. These men and women have served their country and this event demonstrates the support they have in the Savannah community to get back on their feet.
“Our theme for this year’s event is ‘Housing Patriots, Friends and Neighbors one person at a time,” said Savannah VA Outpatient Clinic Social Worker Ruth Keith. “Housing Veterans and individuals in this community who are homeless and facing homelessness is a grave concern to the agencies in the community, who are involved in the Stand Down. Stand Down is an important annual initiative to help end Veterans homelessness.”
Myrtle Beach assists area Veterans
Myrtle Beach may be just in its fourth year of hosting their local Stand Down Against Veterans Homelessness event, but the event is growing every year. This year’s event will once again be hosted by AARP South Carolina, Veteran’s Welcome Home Center, the Military Officers Association and the Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic and is scheduled for Sept. 22 at the Market Common Army Reserve Center from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Offerings at the event include: free dental and medical screenings, hot breakfast and hot lunch, clothing vouchers, non-perishable food items, haircuts, access to attorneys and addiction counselors, flu shots, free bus passes, and housing assistance.
Last year, 153 homeless and at-risk Veterans received the benefits of the Myrtle Beach Stand Down. This happened due to the overwhelming support of volunteers, civic and church groups, and businesses in Horry County.
Charleston to host their event in October
Veterans needing assistance in the Charleston area can join the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and its partner, Palmetto Warrior Connection, along with dozens of other community support agencies, at the CRRC on Friday, Oct. 13 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. for the Charleston Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness.
At 2016’s Charleston Stand Down, more than 100 volunteers assisted more than 180 homeless persons and people in need, including about 153 Veterans. Like last year, Veterans can expect medical care, housing assistance, clothing, job assistance, basic health care, flu shots and haircuts, among other things.
“This is now the third year we will be hosting Stand Down at the CRRC,” said Myrick. “It continues to be important to familiarize our Veterans with this location, so they are aware of the year-round services that are offered here to assist them with housing, jobs, legal aid, counseling and other VA and community resources. Stand Down is a great event to reach Veterans who are in need, but our goal is to help this population all year, not just every October.”
Area Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can visit the CRRC, a VA outpatient clinic or the main medical center in Charleston, where homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.