The American Legion Department of New Jersey hosted the first of several mobile stand downs for homeless and at-risk veterans on Oct. 9 in Pleasantville, N.J.
The department’s stand down events have been moved outside due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the Oct. 9 event serving as something of a trial run, said Bob Looby, the department’s employment and education chairman.
“We needed to test all aspects before our next and larger Atlantic City mobile event on Oct. 28,” Looby said.
The Pleasantville event drew 39 homeless and at-risk veterans; approximately 300 veterans, staff and service providers are estimated for the next stand down, at St. Michael’s Church, 9 N. Georgia Ave., Atlantic City, N.J., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 28.
Looby emphasized that the stand downs receive support from a variety of sources.
“We are strongly supported by the American Legion Family, who coordinates the clothing distribution and volunteers; the VA with their mobile clinic, with clinicians, a medical doctor, nurse and veteran registration; the Department VFW who traditionally furnishes breakfast to the vets and National Guard ‘ambassadors,’ and for this past event all lunches; the Department DAV for accredited service officers; the Red Cross as registrars; Catholic Charities as SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) providers, HUD VASH coordinators and supplies all paper goods for all events; the New Jersey Casino Control Commission who manages all media; the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for all their services: the respective county sheriffs and local police departments for a visual presence, traffic control and security. According to the VA, this is the first in the nation, wherein a veteran was ‘vested’ with the VA the day of an event by a primary care doctor and nurse,” Looby said.