By Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
Often, when we think of our veterans, we think of the soldiers in uniform fighting battles, protecting and representing this country. We fail to think of these soldiers once they have fulfilled their military service and have returned to civilian life. In reality, we see soldiers on the street every day, in regular clothes, living their lives like you and me. But to some of these soldiers, the return to civilian life includes many hardships including homelessness.
Homelessness is considered: any person who cannot afford or obtain their own home or place of residence. It does not look the same everywhere. Some homeless men and women may be able to afford weekly stays at hotels. Some may be bouncing between the homes of friends. Some may be in homeless shelters. And some may even be living on the streets.
The Dallas Homeless Veterans Stand Down Giveaway on Friday, November 13, 2015, has been designated as one day, of many days, dedicated to help homeless veterans. The Veterans Affairs of North Texas Health Care System works in conjunction with many other organizations including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. At the event, supplies and services will be provided to veterans who attend.
The Red Cross has partnered with TD Ameritrade to provide a minimum of 2,500 comfort kits for the Stand Down on Friday. The Big D 57 Chapter of the Disabled Veterans of America also worked with us to supply comfort kits for the event. Our partners at USAA also provided around 500 comfort kits for Stand Down events in Texoma. Comfort kits include items such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, comb, tooth brush, tooth paste, razors, band-aids, antibiotic cream, wet wipes and a pair of socks.
With the help of partners like these and the generosity of the public, Red Cross volunteers are ready to hand out comfort kits to veterans who attend as well as to provide them with information about how the Red Cross provides Service to the Armed Forces even after our soldiers come home.
With this event, the Red Cross continues its service to the Armed Forces that began with Clara Barton’s mission of caring for wounded soldiers more than 130 years ago. The mission to care for our soldiers is just as important now as it was then in that we still have wounded soldiers who need our care. The only difference is that, now, we don’t see them or identify their needs because their injuries may not be visible. Our wounded soldiers are the people standing on street corners asking for money or sleeping at the bus station. They are all around us; we just don’t recognize them.
In light of this, the importance of this event cannot be overstated because it can change lives. The idea behind it is “providing a hand up, not a hand out.” It allows veterans to keep their dignity and get the help that they need. They took care of us, and now it is our turn to take care of them. This event is one out of many ways for the community to give back to these individuals who have given so much to us.
Veterans will have access, free of charge, to items such as food, clothing, shoes, and personal hygiene kits. Services include housing, employment, and legal services. This list is just a sampling of the supplies and services donated. To receive these free giveaways, a veteran needs a voucher. Vouchers will be given on the day of the event.
If you know a veteran who needs assistance, and may not want to ask for it, encourage him or her to attend the Dallas Homeless Veterans Stand Down. Volunteers will be there to help, and it is the community’s way to thank the veterans for their service to our country.
To see how you can support veterans through the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, visit http://www.redcross.org/what-we-do/support-military-families.