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Stand Down event to aid homeless veterans

Suncoast News staff report
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HUDSON — “No one left behind” often serves as the motto of soldiers in battle.

That maxim especially should hold true for homeless veterans once they return to civilian life, organizers of Pasco County Stand Down believe.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, and runs through 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Veterans Memorial Park, 14333 Hicks Road, Hudson.

Stand Down is a hand up, not a handout, and connects veterans with services that could bring relief, organizers say.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County, more than 1,400 homeless or at-risk vets live in the county.

The event is modeled after the Stand Down concept the military used during the Vietnam War. It provided a safe retreat for soldiers returning from combat in Southeast Asia.

“It’s a one-stop shop for veterans to get connected with whatever resources they need to help them get off the street,” Brian Anderson said in a press release and Stand Down co-organizer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs tries to help some that have served, but cannot help everyone, Anderson emphasized.

With more veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan during tough economic times, officials want to make sure they are aware of the programs and services available.

Stand Down will include a bus for medical and dental treatments, hot meals, showers, haircuts, legal assistance, counseling services, and treatment options for addiction, mental health and vocational rehabilitation.

“There is certainly a great deal of needs that our veterans are facing,” Anderson said. “We want them to be able to take care of the issues that may contribute to them being homeless, like substance abuse, joblessness and post-traumatic stress.

This will be the second year One Community Now has organized the Stand Down, Anderson said.

Its corporate sponsors include Saint Leo University, Friendly Kia of New Port Richey, 72HRPrint.com, Specialty Web Designs and Pasco Veterans Council.

Veterans are encouraged to register in advance. Free transportation is available to Stand Down. For more information go online to www.pascostanddown.org or the Facebook page.

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