Stand downs were started in 1988 by two Vietnam veterans. Named for a military term for a combat unit’s time to rest and recover while at war, today it is a grassroots effort to offer the same services to homeless veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are about 131,000 homeless veterans on the street on any given night.
Stand downs typically include food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, benefits counseling, and job counseling and referral services. The philosophy of a stand down is to give homeless veterans a hand up, not a handout. Stand downs are organized by self-appointed community coalitions that take on the task of holding the event. Any group can decide to hold a stand down.
The traditional stand down lasts three days, providing shelter and food throughout the event, and may provide services such as haircuts, healthcare screenings, vision and dental care, VA benefits counseling, substance abuse counseling, and legal services.
“I am proud to be an ALA member. Through its programs, the Auxiliary gives me the opportunity to educate myself about how to help veterans, the troops, their families, and my community,”
Maria Moss, member of ALA Unit 149, and American Legion Riders – Chapter 149, both in Las Vegas.