Butler VA Health Care System
Event to Benefit Homeless Veterans
August 19, 2011
NEW CASTLE — One homeless person is one too many.
The viewpoint of Sandra Wilder, VFW District 25 auxiliary president, is shared by many veterans advocates.
The day before the U.S. observes the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the first Stand Down in Lawrence County will be held at Cascade Park to bring awareness to the homeless veteran population in the area.
The event also will serve as a salute to the fallen of 9/11 and allow the community to provide monetary donations, toiletry items and clothing to those who need it most.
In addition to veterans, others within New Castle’s city limits have only a tent for shelter.
“We’re outreaching to individuals or families who are homeless and that includes homeless veterans,” said Sandra Beahm, social worker at the Butler VA Hospital, which is overseeing the event. “We won’t turn anybody away.”
According to Wilder, a stand down refers to a community-based intervention program designed to provide homeless veterans access to resources that can start to rebuild their lives. The term originated during times of war when exhausted combat units were removed from battlefields safely and received personal hygiene, clean uniforms, warm meals, and medical and dental care, she said.
The event, which includes guest speakers, will also provide food, clothing, medical care and supplies for the homeless veterans in the county.
The Lawrence County Veterans Stand Down Committee consists of various veterans organizations, local and state community services, and charity organizations. Local agencies, businesses, organizations and individuals are also being asked to make the day a success for anyone who is homeless and in needs of things most people take for granted.
“This is a community project,” Beahm informed.
Staff Sgt. Aaron Bender, junior vice commander of Post 315, also has been instrumental in organizing the stand down, she said.
The committee seeks new toiletries, socks, underwear, T-shirts, sweats, shoes, boots, coats, used, but clean and serviceable jackets, sleeping bags, backpacks and tarps.
Wilder emphasized that health screenings including blood pressure, eye exams and circulation will be provided. She, along with 15 to 20 auxiliary members from posts 315 and 267 will be preparing breakfast and lunch. And the Red Cross will provide showers.
Nationwide, the VA has an initiative to end homelessness in five years and Beahm said “we’re two years into it.”
“We’re starting programs to get veterans off the street,” she said.
“We can see that for at least one day those who served us will not worry about their next hot meal or having needed clothing or the supplies they need to survive,” Wilder said.
For Beahm, “It’s a crime to have veterans on the street. These are people who have served our country. The stand down is an opportunity to provide services and educate. This is all about community awareness and we hope it’s successful.”
Veterans Stand Down
•The first Stand Down to benefit homeless veterans will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 10 Cascade Park. It is open to veterans, homeless veterans and the community.
•A tribute to 9/11 is at 2 p.m. with an honor guard.
•Monetary donations of any amount may be sent to Veterans Stand Down, VFW Post 315, 1820 East Washington St., New Castle, Pa. 16101.
•Donations of $250 or more will receive recognition of the contributing organization on T-shirts that will be made available at the event.