2008 Homeless Veteran’s Standowns

“Every veteran has a home, and it’s called America”
– Jesse Brown
Former US Secretary for Veteran Affairs

“Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless veterans. Stand Downs are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.

The first Stand Down was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam veterans in San Diego. Since then, Stand Downs have been used as an effective tool in reaching out to homeless veterans, reaching more than 200,000 veterans and their family members between 1994-2000.

The stand downs planned for 2008 are listed below:

Date # of Days Location Contact Phone Number
1/12/2008

1

Washington, DC Paula Gorman 202-745-8000 ext. 6892
1/31/2008

1

Waco, TX Paula Wood 254-743-1261
2/26/2008

1

Portland, OR Keith Scheff 503-220-8262 ext. 33722
3/15/2008

1

Viera, FL John W. Carroll 321-637-3788
3/19/2008

1

Hattiesburg, MS Paul B. Matens 601-362-4471 ext. 5504
3/27/2008

1

Raleigh, NC Bob Williamson 919-286-0411 ext. 6045
3/29/2008

2

Lebanon, PA Rebecca L. Sheetz 717-272-6621 ext.5438
4/5/2008

1

Columbus, GA Spring Love 334-725-2838
4/10/2008

1

Las Vegas, NV Gregory F. Abernathy 702-636-3000 ext. 6054
4/11/2008

1

Brentwood, NY John A. Sperandeo 631-261-4400 ext. 7031
4/25/2008

1

St. Cloud, MN Stephen Eisenreich 320-255-6480
5/14-15/2008

2

Las Vegas, NV Gregory F. Abernathy 702-636-3000 ext. 6054
6/12-13/2008

2

Chicago, IL Eugene Herskovic 312-569-8085
6/20-21/2008

2

San Juan, PR Daniel Aponte 787-641-7582 ext. 12327
6/2008

2

Fayetteville, AR Brian McAnally 479-444-5065
7/12/2008

1

Sandpoint, ID John E. Davis 208-255-5291
8/7-10/2008

4

Pleasanton, CA Denver Mills 925-680-4526
8/15/2008

1

Tampa, FL Wendy Hellickson 813-979-3559 
8/21/2008

1

Haverhill, MA Shara Puglisi 781-687-2457
8/2008*

1

Fairbanks, AK John Pendrey 907-273-4051
8/2008*

2

Anchorage, AK John Pendrey 907-273-4051
9/19-20/2008

2

Cedar Rapids, IA Sarah E. Oliver 563-370-1779
9/20-21/2008

2

Colville, WA John E. Davis 208-255-5291
9/23/2008

1

Savanah, GA Michael Bland 800-595-5229 ext. 2374
9/25-27/2008

3

Rock Island, IL Sarah E. Oliver 563-370-1779
9/2008

1

Rutland, VT Aleta M. Runey 802-295-9363 ext. 6184
9/2008

3

Philadelphia, PA Stephen Bennett 225-823-5800 ext. 5506
10/4-5/2008

2

Libby, MT John E. Davis 208-255-5291
10/22-23/2008

2

Michigan Frances E McGiven 313-576-1000
10/24/2008

1

Dayton, OH Kristina Walker 937-268-6511 ext. 2481
10/25/2008

1

St. Cloud, MN Stephen Eisenreich 320-255-6480
11/2008*

1

Salem, VA  Gaylene Sanford 540-982-2463 ext. 1230
11/2008*

1

Roanoke, VA Robert Schmitt 540-982-2463 ext. 1230
11/7/2008

1

Columbia, SC Margaret Battle 803-776-4000 ext. 7445
11/7/2008

1

Salt Lake, UT Rudy Johansen 801-582-1565 ext. 2611
11/10/2008

1

San Antonio, TX Ann Guerrier-Marsh 210-692-1155
11/15/2008

1

Manchester, NH Bruce Bissett 603-624-4366
11/20/2008

1

San Juan, PR Daniel Aponte 787-641-7582 ext. 12327
11/24/2008

1

Freeport, NY John A. Sperandeo 631-261-4400 ext. 7031
TBD

1

Cherry Hill, NJ Steven Chambers 610-384-7711
TBD

1

Austin, TX Paula Wood 254-743-1261
TBD

1

Asheville, NC Allison Haberfield 828-298-7911 ext. 15506
TBD

1

Tillamook, OR Steve Weld 503-842-4358
TBD

1

Yakima, WA Robert Vasquez 509-457-2736
TBD

2

Bend, OR Stu Steinberg 503-220-8262
TBD

3

Roseburg, OR Laura James 541-826-2111
TBD

1

Pittsburgh, PA Mary Francis Pilarski 412-365-5273
TBD

1

Macon, GA Adelaide Anne Martis 478-272-1210 ext. 3635
TBD

1

Columbus, GA Spring Love 334-725-2838
TBD

1

Lantham, NY Donna K. Vaughn 518-626-5167
TBD

1

Gainesville, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Tallahassee, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Jacksonville, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Clay County, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

St. Augustine, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Lake City, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Ocala, FL Vianne Marchese 352-379-7461
TBD

1

Orlando, FL Heather S. Gallagher 321-397-0413
TBD

1

Richmond, VA Raymond Patterson 804-675-5000 ext. 4191
TBD

1

Longview, WA Christina Pegg  360-423-0140

*Indicates event planned for that month, exact date not determined. TBD stand down planned, date

not yet determined.  For additional information on Stand Down dates and locations, please contact the Homeless Veterans Programs Office at:    (202) 273-5764.”

The next Suffolk County veterans stand down will be April 11, 2008 1000 hrs to 1400 hrs at the Health, Sports, & Education Center on the Brentwood Campus of Suffolk Community College. The next volunteer meeting is on Friday 3/28/08 at 1400 hrs at the Police Academy Gymnasium ( Suffolk Community College Brentwood) the meeting after that is on 4/4/08 1630 hrs at the same place you can call (631)853-8387) for additional information.

Commander

Dick Woltman

(Thank You VFW Commander of Suffolk County Woltman)

The April 11th 2008 Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Brentwood, NY is hosted by the Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, Thomas Ronayne, Director. Questions or additional information:

631 853 8387 (VETS)

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9 Responses to “2008 Homeless Veteran’s Standowns”

  1. olotliny Says:

    Why Does Johnny Come Marching Homeless?

    Peter Mohan traces the path from the Iraqi battlefield to this lifeless conference room, where he sits in a kilt and a Camp Kill Yourself T-shirt and calmly describes how he became a sad cliche: a homeless veteran.

    There was a happy homecoming, but then an accident — car crash, broken collarbone. And then a move east, close to his wife’s new job but away from his best friends.

    And then self-destruction: He would gun his motorcycle to 100 mph and try to stand on the seat. He would wait for his wife to leave in the morning, draw the blinds and open up whatever bottle of booze was closest.

    He would pull out his gun, a .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol. He would lovingly clean it, or just look at it and put it away. Sometimes place it in his mouth.

    “I don’t know what to do anymore,” his wife, Anna, told him one day. “You can’t be here anymore.”

    Peter Mohan never did find a steady job after he left Iraq. He lost his wife — a judge granted their divorce this fall — and he lost his friends and he lost his home, and now he is here, in a shelter.

    He is 28 years old. “People come back from war different,” he offers by way of a summary.

    This is not a new story in America: A young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

    But it is happening to a new generation. As the war in Afghanistan plods on in its seventh year, and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

    And with it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the archetypal homeless, combat-addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

    What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war, of young men and women who devote themselves to serving their country and then see things no man or woman should?

    ———

    For as long as the United States has sent its young men — and later its young women — off to war, it has watched as a segment of them come home and lose the battle with their own memories, their own scars, and wind up without homes.

    The Civil War produced thousands of wandering veterans. Frequently addicted to morphine, they were known as “tramps,” searching for jobs and, in many cases, literally still tending their wounds.

    More than a decade after the end of World War I, the “Bonus Army” descended on Washington — demanding immediate payment on benefits that had been promised to them, but payable years later — and were routed by the U.S. military.

    And, most publicly and perhaps most painfully, there was Vietnam: Tens of thousands of war-weary veterans, infamously rejected or forgotten by many of their own fellow citizens.

    Now it is happening again, in small but growing numbers.

    For now, about 1,500 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

    The 1,500 are a small, young segment of an estimated 336,000 veterans in the United States who were homeless at some point in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

    Still, advocates for homeless veterans use words like “surge” and “onslaught” and even “tsunami” to describe what could happen in the coming years, as both wars continue and thousands of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

    People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home — the time of parades and backslaps and “The Boys Are Back in Town” on the local FM station — and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

    In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

    How — or perhaps the better question is why — is this happening again?

    “I really wish I could answer that question,” says Anthony Belcher, an outreach supervisor at New Directions, which conducts monthly sweeps of Skid Row in Los Angeles, identifying homeless veterans and trying to help them get over addictions.

    “It’s the same question I’ve been asking myself and everyone around me. I’m like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before. I don’t know how our society can allow this to happen again.”

    ———

    Mental illness, financial troubles and difficulty in finding affordable housing are generally accepted as the three primary causes of homelessness among veterans, and in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the first has raised particular concern.

    Iraq veterans are less likely to have substance abuse problems but more likely to suffer mental illness, particularly post-traumatic stress, according to the Veterans Administration. And that stress by itself can trigger substance abuse.

    Some advocates say there are also some factors particular to the Iraq war, like multiple deployments and the proliferation of improvised explosive devices, that could be pulling an early trigger on stress disorders that can lead to homelessness.

    While many Vietnam veterans began showing manifestations of stress disorders roughly 10 years after returning from the front, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have shown the signs much earlier.

    That could also be because stress disorders are much better understood now than they were a generation ago, advocates say.

    “There’s something about going back, and a third and a fourth time, that really aggravates that level of stress,” said Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares,” a San Francisco homeless-vet outreach program.

    “And being in a situation where you have these IEDs, everywhere’s a combat zone. There’s no really safe zone there. I think that all is just a stew for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

    Others point to something more difficult to define, something about American culture that — while celebrating and honoring troops in a very real way upon their homecoming — ultimately forgets them.

    This is not necessarily due to deliberate negligence. Perhaps because of the lingering memory of Vietnam, when troops returned from an unpopular war to face open hostility, many Americans have taken care to express support for the troops even as they solidly disapprove of the war in Iraq.

    But it remains easy for veterans home from Iraq for several years, and teetering on the edge of losing a job or home, to slip into the shadows. And as their troubles mount, they often feel increasingly alienated from friends and family members.

    “War changes people,” says John Driscoll, vice president for operations and programs at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “Your trust in people is strained. You’ve been separated from loved ones and friends. The camaraderie between troops is very extreme, and now you feel vulnerable.”

    The VA spends about $265 million annually on programs targeting homeless veterans. And as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face problems, the VA will not simply “wait for 10 years until they show up,” Pete Dougherty, the VA’s director of homeless programs, said when the new figures were released.

    “We’re out there now trying to get everybody we can to get those kinds of services today, so we avoid this kind of problem in the future,” he said.

    ———

    These are all problems defined in broad strokes, but they cascade in very real and acute ways in the lives of individual veterans.

    Take Mike Lally. He thinks back now to the long stretches in the stifling Iraq heat, nothing to do but play Spades and count flies, and about the day insurgents killed the friendly shop owner who sold his battalion Pringles and candy bars.

    He thinks about crouching in the back of a Humvee watching bullets crash into fuel tanks during his first firefight, and about waiting back at base for the vodka his mother sent him, dyed blue and concealed in bottles of Scope mouthwash.

    It was a little maddening, he supposes, every piece of it, but Lally is fairly sure that what finally cracked him was the bodies. Unloading the dead from ambulances and loading them onto helicopters. That was his job.

    “I guess I loaded at least 20,” he says. “Always a couple at a time. And you knew who it was. You always knew who it was.”

    It was in 2004, when he came back from his second tour in Iraq with the Marine Corps, that his own bumpy ride down began.

    He would wake up at night, sweating and screaming, and during the days he imagined people in the shadows — a state the professionals call hypervigilence and Mike Lally calls “being on high alert, all the time.”

    His father-in-law tossed him a job installing vinyl siding, but the stress overcame him, and Lally began to drink. A little rum in his morning coffee at first, and before he knew it he was drunk on the job, and then had no job at all.

    And now Mike Lally, still only 26 years old, is here, booted out of his house by his wife, padding around in an old T-shirt and sweats at a Leeds shelter called Soldier On, trying to get sober and perhaps, on a day he can envision but not yet grasp, get his home and family and life back.

    “I was trying to live every day in a fog,” he says, reflecting between spits of tobacco juice. “I’d think I was back in there, see people popping out of windows. Any loud noise would set me off. It still does.”

    ———

    Soldier On is staffed entirely by homeless veterans. A handful who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, usually six or seven at a time, mix with dozens from Vietnam. Its president, Jack Downing, has spent nearly four decades working with addicts, the homeless and the mentally ill.

    Next spring, he plans to open a limited-equity cooperative in the western Massachusetts city of Pittsfield. Formerly homeless veterans will live there, with half their rents going into individual deposit accounts.

    Downing is convinced that ushering homeless veterans back into homeownership is the best way out of the pattern of homelessness that has repeated itself in an endless loop, war after war.

    “It’s a disgrace,” Downing says. “You have served your country, you get damaged, and you come back and we don’t take care of you. And we make you prove that you need our services.”

    “And how do you prove it?” he continues, voice rising in anger. “You prove it by regularly failing until you end up in a system where you’re identified as a person in crisis. That has shocked me.”

    Even as the nation gains a much better understanding of the types of post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by so many thousands of veterans — even as it learns the lessons of Vietnam and tries to learn the lessons of Iraq — it is probably impossible to foretell a day when young American men and women come home from wars unscarred.

    At least as long as there are wars.

    But Driscoll, at least, sees an opportunity to do much better.

    He notes that the VA now has more than 200 veteran adjustment centers to help ease the transition back into society, and the existence of more than 900 VA-connected community clinics nationwide.

    “We’re hopeful that five years down the road, you’re not going to see the same problems you saw after the Vietnam War,” he says. “If we as a nation do the right thing by these guys.”

    © Copyright 2008 CSC Holdings, Inc.

  2. olotliny Says:

    http://usmayors.org/HHSurvey2007/hhsurvey07.pdf

    A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities:
    A 23-City Survey December 2007

    The above link will take the reader to the 72 page report on Hunger and Homelessness in America. The study stated that it provided 23 U.S. Conference of Mayors (not considered a nation wide representation)surveys/questions-closed and open ended as to causes/root of hunger and homelessness in their sampled cities.

    Some main reasons/issues that directly contributed to hunger and homelessness were cited: lack of affordable living/homes, unemployment and poverty.

    The study documented that (52% of the cities that participated in this study)turn people away from their centers due to lack of space/beds and resources.

  3. olotliny Says:

    http://www.news12.com/LI/topstories/article?id=207152

    Death of homeless man triggers policy questions

    (02/12/08) WEST HEMPSTEAD – News 12 Long Island has learned a homeless man who lived outside a West Hempstead supermarket, and was featured in several reports, has died.

    George Baldwin, a 49-year-old homeless veteran, spoke to News 12 Long Island Monday about dealing with the frigid temperatures while living on the streets.

    Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone, of the Nassau Police Department, says Baldwin’s death may have been related to exposure to the cold.

    Homeless people on Long Island are not forced to seek shelter on cold nights, unlike in New York City. Some wonder whether or not that’s the best policy. Experts say as many as 200 people may have spent Monday night outside on the streets in Nassau County alone.

    Joan Noguera, of the Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless, says forcing homeless people into shelters violates their individual rights.

    Baldwin told News 12 Long Island years ago he preferred staying with the friends he trusted on the street, as opposed to in shelters, which could be dangerous.

    Related Information:
    Suffolk non-emergency police – 631-852-COPS
    Nassau County hotline – 1-866-WARM-BED

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/nassau/ny-licold0214,0,1221056.story
    Newsday.com
    Another homeless man found dead during cold spell

    BY MATTHEW CHAYES AND MICHAEL AMON

    matthew.chayes@newsday.com
    michael.amon@newsday.com

    11:54 PM EST, February 13, 2008

    A homeless man was found dead Wednesday in a wooded area near Hicksville, a Nassau official said, the third homeless man discovered dead outside in a week marked by frigid temperatures and stormy weather.

    The man was found about 11 a.m. in woods near the confluence of Wantagh Parkway and Old Country Road, said Patrick Yngstrom, deputy director of Nassau Veterans Services. Yngstrom is the leader of a county homeless intervention team, which found the man during a routine check.

    “He was frozen solid,” Yngstrom said. “It was very clear he was homeless and living in the woods.”

    The death of the man — whom Yngstrom could not identify — came as news spread of the death of George Baldwin, a homeless man who told a local TV station that he’d rather brave the freezing temperatures earlier this week than stay in a shelter.

    Wednesday’s discovery also followed the death of an unidentified homeless man discovered in Merrick near the Meadowbrook Parkway on Friday, State Police said. Foul play is not suspected in any of the deaths, authorities said.

    At the Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless candlelight vigil Wednesday night at Farmingdale State College, about 1,000 people observed a moment of silence for the men.

    “No human being should have to die because he or she froze to death. It is unacceptable,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said at the vigil.

    Baldwin, 49, was found Tuesday in West Hempstead at the intersection of Hempstead Turnpike and Cherry Valley Avenue near a supermarket where he often slept, police said.

    Teddy Tucker, 48, one of Baldwin’s friends on the street, remembered him as a kind man with an affinity for the bottle.

    “He had a drinking problem,” Tucker said, but said he was a friendly man. “You ever see a guy from the ’60s?” Tucker said. “He was that guy. Peace, love and understanding.”

    Nassau Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone said Baldwin’s cause of death is still uncertain. A cut on his forehead was consistent with a fall, Repalone said.

    In the alley where Baldwin lived, his encampment still stood Wednesday as a testament to the lifestyle that apparently killed him. Dirty blankets. A mattress held together with tape. An opened beer can.

    Advocates for the homeless say these deaths represent the toughest part of the homeless population to help — those who choose to live on the streets. The Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless counted at least 91 unsheltered homeless people in Nassau on one day in January 2007; there were 67 in Suffolk.

    “Very often, they’ve had a bad experience in a shelter,” said the coalition’s executive director, Joan Noguera. “Sometimes there are mental health issues, sometimes there are substance abuse issues. There are a multitude of things going on.”

    Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

  4. Thomas Ronayne Says:

    The April 11th 2008 Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Brentwood is hosted by the Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, Thomas Ronayne, Director.
    Questions or additional information @ 631 853 8387 (VETS)

  5. Elizabeth Rose Says:

    Our Veterans need to be taken care of. They have given everything now we need to not let them fall through the cracks. People with emotional trauma and depression need support. If we are a Christian nation we have got to take care of those in true need. They are “The Least of These”. When someone is chronically homeless sleeping on the streets. They are in danger physically, mentally and need a support network and medication. With the right medication and a support network and trusting in humanity again, they can have happy lives. They are a human soul. Especially Our Heroes. If they dont mean anything to us then we donot deserve to be Americans.We donot love ourselves if we donot care about people with broken minds. Our Veterans have been through hell.They wouldnt really be normal if what they have seen and experienced did not cause PTSD or even psychosis. There is great medicines for this but they have to stay on them all thier lives and get support since they donot have family helping them.Alot of the depression comes from giving up hope.Love can make them want to live life and us too. Real love.

  6. August Says:

    The only thing the VA does to homeless veterans is force the 12 step witchcraft religion 24/7 down their throats, warehouse them with children bunk beds and shared showers, open toilets, rotten food bank discards, never-ending “how do you feel” group therapy, and handfuls of drugs that do not work. Homeless veterans need Real Housing, Real Training, and Real Jobs! Quit keeping homeless veterans in absolute poverty!

  7. August Says:

    There is never any housing at Stand Downs…NEVER!, It’s a big fraud. They just want the veteran to get into a “program” that they get big bucks per veterans and when the veteran is finished with the funding…..back to the streets.

  8. Cindy Wilczynski Says:

    Hi my name is cindy! My son is a Veteran and currently living in fairbanks alaska. He is going to be homeless in four days and has no were to go. could you please help. my number is 605-786-8592
    my sons is 907-378-4118

    please help


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