Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Stand Down helps homeless Veterans, showcases CRRC
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center partnered with Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina and Palmetto Warrior Connection to host its 16th annual Stand Down Against Veteran Homelessness Oct. 30. The event, traditionally held at Armory Park in North Charleston, moved to a new location this year - the VA Community Resource and Referral Center located at 2424 City Hall Lane in North Charleston.
"We're holding Stand Down here at the CRRC because we wanted to really showcase this new facility that opened in June," said Hugh Myrick, Chief of Mental health at the Charleston VAMC. "The annual Stand Down events meet a critical need for our homeless Veterans but we found that it wasn't enough. We needed to do more. This facility helps us realize that goal - to provide a mini Stand Down every day. Veterans can come here any time and get connected with those who can help them get back on their feet."
The Charleston event boasted hundreds of volunteers, all of whom worked diligently to provide assistance to more than 375 homeless persons and people in need, including about 280 Veterans. Those who attended the event were seeking medical care, shelter, clothing, and job assistance, among other things. Basic health care, flu shots, HIV testing, and employment services were in high demand. Goodwill ambassadors provided haircuts and clothing vouchers while volunteers prepared, packed and distributed two hot meals to the participants.
The event also included a Listening Forum with Charleston VA Medical Center Director Scott Isaacks. Isaacks met with area Veterans as they visited the different service areas at Stand Down and addressed concerns. He also lauded the success of the Homeless Program and commended the staff's daily efforts to support this underserved population.
"The outstanding and diligent staff members in our homeless program have been hard at work this year placing chronically homeless Veterans into stable housing," Isaacks said. "Through the HUD-VASH program, we have permanently housed 498 Veterans in fiscal year 2015, which is 78 more than last year. I am confident that we will top that number in the upcoming year."
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.