What Say ye Chuck!194,000 is too Many!

ASHEVILLE - The Asheville VA Medical Center Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program will host a one-day homeless veteran Stand Down from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 George Washington Carver St.

Stand Downs are part of the U.S. 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 services such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies that serve the homeless.

Members of the Asheville Homeless Coalition will also be on site today to assist the medical center with the Stand Down. Agencies such as Pisgah Legal Services, the Affordable Housing Coalition, Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment Security Commission and the local shelters also will be on hand. Homeless veterans will be able to speak with community and VA providers regarding services, and will be offered hot showers, a catered lunch, haircuts and supplies. Medical center staff, students from Wingate School of Pharmacy and the University of South Carolina Social Work Program will be on site to assist homeless veterans at the Stand Down.

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

There are 194,000 homeless veterans on any given night in America, according to the VA.

The largest proportion of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam War, and the fastest-growing segment of homeless veterans treated is post-Vietnam, or after 1975. Studies have found 80 percent of veterans who complete treatment and gain employment are still housed, clean, sober and stable one year after discharge.

The VA is the only federal agency that provides hands-on assistance directly to the homeless.