Annual stand down continue to provide support for Iowa veterans

Annual stand down continue to provide support for Iowa veterans

For at least 10 years, American Legion Post 26’s Legion Family in Davenport, Iowa, has hosted an annual veterans stand down to bring valuable services and assistance to the homeless and at at-need veterans in its community.

The most recent such event took place Feb. 15, when Post 26 collaborated with Bridging the Gap, a Davenport-based nonprofit that puts such veterans in contact with agencies and organizations that can provide them support. Around 30 veterans attended the event this year.

Post 26 Commander Ed Hildebrand said it’s important to provide such an event because some veterans who leave the military have no idea what is available to them – and some of those then fall into the cracks and end up homeless.

“There’s non-communication when some of these guys come out of the service,” Hildebrand said. “They’re not told where to go, and before you know it they’re homeless. We’re trying to prevent that. That’s the whole thing.”

The stand down brings multiple government entities and other services, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and VA Vet Centers reps, the Social Security Administration, the Red Cross and Salvation Army, housing and employment assistance, and legal aid.

“We want to be able to get them work so they can get themselves an apartment,” Hildebrand said. “The American Legion (and other veterans service organizations) are here to do one thing: that’s serve the veterans, especially homeless veterans. Serve these guys and show the veterans that someone out there cares. That someone out there is trying to bring a better life to them. That’s what it is.”

Veterans who attended also were given food and a clothing bag that included coats, shirts, underwear and socks. Auxiliary Unit 26 served the food during the event.

And this year, two homeless veterans who attended were able to get housing through VA, while another veteran was able to get a service connection and now will be receiving a monthly VA benefits payment.

“We’re showing we’re here to help veterans. We’re here to help the families of veterans,” Hildebrand said. “We do this because that’s what we do. The whole thing is showing these veterans that someone cares. Help those homeless vets so they have a place of their own or can share a house with somebody. That’s what this is all about. We tell them, ‘You’ve got a friend here.’”