VETERAN STAND DOWN INFORMATION
Click here to access the list of current Stand Downs.
What is a Stand Down?
Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 107,000 homeless veterans on any given night “combat” life on the streets. Homeless veterans are brought together in a single location for one to three days and are provided access to the community resources needed to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives. In the military, Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Today’s Stand Down affords the same opportunity to homeless veterans.
What is the history of Stand Down?
What happens at a Stand Down?
Why this unique approach?
This lack of efficient support from traditional veteran services has led to homeless veterans’ mistrust of the very government agencies and large institutions created to help them. A Stand Down brings together various agencies and service providers to provide a comprehensive system that encourages and assists homeless veterans to overcome their distrust and feelings of isolation with the knowledge that this event promises to address multiple problems at one time and place. It provides a safe environment in which they can connect with people who have shared experiences and cultivate hope that they can rebuild their lives.
Who organizes and delivers theses services?
Where are Stand Downs held?
What does it take to stage a Stand Down?
What can I do to help?
If there is not a Stand Down scheduled in a community near you, you might want to help organize a planning committee to assist the homeless veterans in your area. Please contact us for information concerning homeless veteran providers and advocates in your area.
Classification of Stand Down Events
NCHV has developed standards for classification of Stand Down events based on the different models currently in practice. Variations from the original program concept – in terms of duration and the range of support services available – shape the developed program guidelines.
Stand Down program guidelines can be a valuable planning tool for event organizers. Though not every event will include all of the service elements required for official designation as a “Stand Down,” it is generally agreed that all outreach and assistance programs provide much needed support for homeless veterans. The hope is that event coordinators will endeavor to include more services as their programs evolve.
Homeless veterans outreach assistance events are classified based on comparison to the original, three-day comprehensive Stand Down program concept. Event organizers have the latitude to name their own events. NCHV’s classifications will be used to inform potential investors and collect information about types of services offered to homeless veterans. Guidelines for classifying homeless veteran assistance programs follow.
Homeless Veterans Resource Fair (Modified Stand Down model)
Homeless Veteran Health Fair
Homeless Veteran Job Fair
Events targeting all veterans are really benefit or health screening fairs and do not fit the Stand Down model criteria.
Some communities have used the Stand Down model to offer services to all homeless individuals and/or low income at-risk individuals. Since these are not veteran specific, they do not fit the Stand Down model.
Organizing a Stand Down
Vietnam Veterans of San Diego has identified six goals to organizing and implementing a successful Stand Down:
Ingredients Critical to Stand Down Success
A high level of community awareness and commitment is vital to the success of a Stand Down and should be identified as a principal goal throughout the planning process. Strong leadership from the initial planning stages is essential to achieving this objective. Grassroots veterans groups or service organizations often serve in leadership roles during the planning process. Local Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies also successfully provide leadership.
Raising community awareness and commitment requires an accurate needs assessment for homeless veterans within the community, as well as an assessment of community capacity and available resources. This information will help you determine the appropriate length and service demands of your event.
Effective planning should be based on the completed needs assessment. Effective planning includes organization of the event, coordination of efforts, and creation of an information clearinghouse that serves as a liaison to the public and that can help ensure delivery of a consistent message for the project.
10 Steps to Organizing Stand Down Events
Who are homeless veterans?
America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.
Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively.
About 1.5 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
How many homeless veterans are there?
Why are veterans homeless?
A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.
Although “most homeless people are single, unaffiliated men… most housing money in existing federal homelessness programs, in contrast, is devoted to helping homeless families or homeless women with dependant children,” as is stated in the study “Is Homelessness a Housing Problem?” (Understanding Homelessness: New Policy and Research Perspectives, Fannie Mae Foundation, 1997).
Doesn’t VA take care of homeless veterans?
Since 1987, VA’s programs for homeless veterans have emphasized collaboration with such community service providers to help expand services to more veterans in crisis. These partnerships are credited with reducing the number of homeless veterans by more than halfover the past six years. More information about VA homeless programs and initiatives can be found here.
What services do veterans need?
What seems to work best?
Government money, while important, is currently limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care. Veterans who participate in collaborative programs are afforded more services and have higher chances of becoming tax-paying, productive citizens again.
What can I do?
DEFINITIONS, DEMOGRAPHICS AND ESTIMATED NUMBERS
§11302. General definition of homeless individual