Serve your country and then be homeless or live in area shelters. It’s not the plan for any service member, but it’s the reality for a couple hundred either homeless or at-risk veterans and their families in the Tri-State region, according to the Disabled American Veterans, or DAV.
Their annual Stand Down event aims to reconnect many of these veterans to benefits and resources to give them a hand up.
“It allows us to do a lot of things,” said John Kleindienst, DAV National Voluntary Services Director. “One, make sure they’re up to date on their health screenings, verify their military service, offer career fair legal advocacy to ensure we can get them out of some bumps in the road that they’ve had in their past.”
Typically, a Stand Down event brings everyone together in one location, where upwards of 40 different agencies work hand in hand to provide everything from food and hygiene items to free haircuts and more. The pandemic has meant a shift, but the need is still there despite declining numbers.
“When we first started doing this, we were seeing upwards of 450, closer to 500, at the very beginning,” Kleindienst said. “Two years ago, when we did our last Stand Down physically, we saw right at 260. Again 250 seems to be our threshold, and we see entire homeless families as well.”
Meeting in person at the new national headquarters building in Erlanger is not an option this year due to covid restrictions. So, the organization built on military values pivoted to be able to continue to make face-to-face time with those in need.
“So, we’ve prepared 250 bags; 225 for male veterans and 25 are for female veterans,” Kleindienst said.
The black backpacks are packed full of hygiene items, blankets, socks and more. The backpacks for the women veterans have additional items specific to women’s hygiene.
Volunteer teams will visit six different locations at the end of the week to hand out the backpacks and see if there are any additional resources needed or if their team can connect them with other benefits the veteran may not know they qualify to receive.
Data from the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report shows the number of homeless veterans has dropped significantly since 2009, when the number hovered just over 73,000. As of the 2019 count, the number sat at just over 37,000.
That number represents approximately 9 percent of the entire homeless population, according to the AHA report.
As John Kleindienst points out that the number of homeless and at-risk veterans and families has decreased locally to an average that seems to sit around 250, he looks forward to a day when this part of their mission doesn’t exist.
“We have seen a significant decrease in the number of veterans that we’re helping,” he said. “That’s a great problem to have. I can’t wait to tell people we have zero homeless.”
Below are the dates and locations:
HOMELESS STAND DOWN – BACKPACK HANDOUT
OCTOBER6 – 8, 2021
WEDNESDAY,OCTOBER 6, 2021 – Pop-up sites for Flu & COVID Vaccines
**Arrive9:45 - Bag handout @ 10:00 am
VOA – Volunteers of America – 50 male veterans
7938 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45231
Provide bags to Annabelle’s Place (Leave with VOA) – 10 female veterans
**Arrive 12:45 - Bag handout @ 1pm
Goodwill – 20 male veterans
10600 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45215
THURSDAY,OCTOBER 7, 2021 – Mobile van for Flu & COVID Vaccines
**Arrive9:45 - Bag handout @ 10:00 am
Welcome House (Gardens at Greenup) – 12 male veterans
133 E 11th Street
Covington, KY 41011
**Arrive11:15 - Bag handout @ 11:30 am
Shelterhouse – 30 male veterans
411 Gest Street
Cincinnati, OH 45203
Provide items to Ester Marie Hatton Center (2499 Reading Road) – 5 female veterans
**Arrive12:45 - Bag handout @ 1:00 pm
Joseph House – 40 male veterans
Meet at Washington Park –
Corner of Music Hall
1230 Elm Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
FRIDAY,OCTOBER 8, 2021
**Arrive 9:45 - Bag handout @ 10:00 am
Ft. Thomas Domiciliary – 60 male veterans
1000 S Ft. Thomas Avenue
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
This will include SUDEP Veterans.