Homeless veterans ‘stand down’ on Jan. 21

The American Legion, volunteers and federal entities will come together to provide homeless veterans a full range of services Saturday at the VA Medical Center in Washington from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Winterhaven,” an outreach effort to raise awareness and address the needs of homeless veterans during the harsh winter season, will provide free health screenings, mental-health services, substance abuse counseling, benefit claims assistance and employment support — provided by VA and other federal agencies — to all needy veterans who attend. The American Legion will send seven volunteers to the event to assist with claims processing and career placement.

Mark Walker, Legion Economic Division deputy director, will be among those in attendance.

“We think that veteran homelessness is always an important issue,” Walker said. “The American Legion needs to be a leadership voice in the communities about how to combat veteran homelessness and ultimately end it.”

In the spirit of making sure the sentiment of caring extends beyond the holiday season, a full range of services will be available Saturday morning, including flu and pneumonia vaccinations, HIV screenings and prostate exams, ophthalmology, podiatry, oral health, and consultations for women’s health concerns. Referrals for substance-abuse counseling and psychotherapeutic services will also be given.

Additionally, homeless veterans can receive assistance in career placement and benefit processing.

As always, posts and Legionnaires everywhere are encouraged to organize similar “stand downs” in their communities to create awareness and provide services for homeless veterans.