Hundreds of low-income and homeless veterans will gather in the metro to access free services in this year’s Sooner Stand Down on Sept. 15. Organizers also hope to house several homeless veterans during the event, which gives veterans access to dental, mental health and primary health care services for free, alongside housing, employment, legal, spiritual and substance abuse counseling – all while receiving a hot meal, snacks, bottled water and personal hygiene kits.
“The Sooner Stand Down allows us to give back to veterans who sacrificed so much for us, by providing them with the resources they need in one central location,” says Christine Cleary, Stand Down coordinator and Healthcare for Homeless Veterans social worker with the VA Health Care System in Oklahoma City.
In a recent homeless census carried out in the city, 147 homeless veterans were counted in one night.
Cleary says that in addition to the complex set of factors affecting all people who are homeless, a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
Organizers Homeless Alliance are aiming to house ten homeless veterans during Friday’s event with help from a range of organizations and non-profits such as Goodwill, Mental Health Association Oklahoma and Hope Community Services.
“The community continues to make progress in housing veterans,” says Dan Straughan, executive director of the Homeless Alliance. “As a community, we’ve been housing an average of 20 veterans each month.
“We are really optimistic about our community’s ability to continue housing veterans,” he continues hopefully. “The Oklahoma City Housing Authority and Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency have been great partners, and stepped up to make sure we can move people off the streets.”
The Stand Down will be held at the Homeless Alliance’s WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. More information can be found here.
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