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U.S. VETS offers limited ‘Stand Down’ event for homeless veterans Nov. 12-14

In this file photo, veterans attend last year’s Stand Down event. This year’s event will be  Nov. 12-14 at the Grace Sparks Activity Center, 824 E. Gurley St. in Prescott. (Courier file)

In this file photo, veterans attend last year’s Stand Down event. This year’s event will be Nov. 12-14 at the Grace Sparks Activity Center, 824 E. Gurley St. in Prescott. (Courier file)

The U.S. VETS Prescott’ Northern Arizona Homeless Veteran Stand Down is a 14-year endeavor aimed at serving as many as 250 to 300 homeless veterans with everything from food and winter gear to assisting them with legal matters and connections to housing and other benefits.

Always a large group effort, COVID-19 required this year’s event to be reimagined.

U.S. VETS Executive Director Carole Benedict said the reality of the virus forced agency leaders to rethink how to still be a benefit to homeless veterans across the county who need assistance without risking the health and safety of those seeking help as well as the providers and volunteers. In prior years, dozens of nonprofit and other area agencies provided a one-stop shop for these veterans, including overnight accommodations, pet clinics, haircuts and a plethora of helpful resources.

From Thursday, Nov. 12 to Saturday, Nov. 14, the Stand Down will be hosted at the Grace Sparks Activity Center at 824 E. Gurley St.

U.S. VETS this year will be erecting outside tents where they will offer food service, a Friday-only job fair, a clothing and gear distribution and health care checks and flu shots offered by the Yavapai County Community Health Services. All attending veterans will also be provided hygiene and food-to-go bags. No overnight stays will be allowed.

On Thursday, the Stand Down will offer a virtual Veterans Court for Yavapai County cases only, with pre-registration required.

Registration for this event will start at 8 a.m. each day, with all veterans required to bring their DD-214 paperwork to expedite their registration.

All attenders will undergo a temperature check and must wear a mask, Benedict said. Physical distancing will be enforced throughout the event, she said. For anything hosted inside the center, Benedict said she expects it will be done in small groups only.

The “Stand Down” concept is a national effort to provide food, clothing, social services and referrals to homeless veterans. The name comes from a term used in times of war when exhausted combat units requiring rest and recuperation were removed from the battlefield to a place of “relative security and safety.”

Today, Stand Down is a grassroots community-based intervention program designed to help some 130,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets.

“The hand-up, not hand-out, philosophy of Stand Down is carried out through the work of hundreds of volunteers and organizations throughout the nation,” said a U.S. VETS news release about this year’s event. “The Stand Down draws the community into the solution, gives hope to veterans still living on the streets, offers them temporary respite and provides information and services that can help end their cycle of homelessness.”

Anyone wishing more information, can contact U.S. VETS Prescott’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usvetsprescott/ or its website www.usvetsinc.org/prescott.

To volunteer contact Kristen Gomes at kgomes@usvets.org or call 928-583-7202 or Tasha Kankaanpaa @ 928-583-7204 or tkankaanpaa@usvets.org.

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Anyone wishing more information, can contact U.S. VETS Prescott’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usvetsprescott/ or its website www.usvetsinc.org/prescott. (Nanci Hutson/Courier, file)

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