On Thursday, an event called Stand Down Against Homelessness provided assistance to dozens of homeless Veterans, in what has been described as one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.
The two-day event hopes to reach out to an estimated 3,000 homeless people in the area, 35 percent of whom are Veterans. Those who were present on Thursday received assistance in the form of such necessities as sleeping bags and toiletries, as well as free haircuts, dental exams, and job placement assistance.
This is not the first time an event of this kind was organized. Last year’s program was able to help an estimated 2,000 people.
VA spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael shared: “This is one of the largest in the nation… We don’t want to see veterans homeless. Anybody who has served in the military should not be in this situation.” She added further that “as recently as a few years ago, 25 percent of the homeless adult males were veterans. We’re hoping that will be 15 percent before too long.”
The South Carolina event is put together by the Veterans Affairs Department, through its Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center and Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina. It is just one of dozens organized by the VA across the country. According to the VA, there are around 154,000 homeless Veterans nationwide.
Bob Smith, the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina, shared: “There are just so many people in need during these tough times. We’re seeing some of the same folks as last year… That’s unfortunate, but the job market is so tough.”