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VA hospital hosts Stand Down event

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Help is on the way for metro Atlanta's estimated 2,000 homeless and disadvantaged veterans, according to officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The Atlanta VA Medical Center plans to host its annual "Stand Down" event, which provides free employment and counseling assistance to homeless and disadvantaged veterans, said Greg Kendall, the hospital's public affairs officer.

Stand Down is set to take place on Oct. 30, from 7:30 a.m., until 3:30 p.m., at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, 1670 Clairmont Road in Decatur, Ga.

Kendall said the event drew more than 500 veterans last year, as a part of the VA-wide outreach program aimed at providing free assistance to an estimated 131,000 homeless veterans nationally, and 2,000 locally.

"It's truly a community outreach that makes this possible," Kendall said.

Representatives from more than 40 community, local, state and federal agencies will take part in the event, he said. The agencies will help provide VA medical and mental health counseling, dental and eye exams, showers, haircuts, food and clothing.

Additionally, Kendall noted, veterans who attend Stand Down receive employment, vocational, drug and alcohol counseling. They also receive legal services, which include a special "standing" court to assist veterans with outstanding criminal warrants.

"Stand Down is a most rewarding and amazing experience," added James Clark, Atlanta VA Medical Center Director. "All of our providers and stakeholders work together and donate their time and services, and never ask for anything other than to help our vets."

Homeless veterans in need of assistance can visit the hospital on Oct. 30, the day of the Stand Down event. To learn more, call the Atlanta VA Medical Center's Homeless Veterans Office at (404) 321-6111, extension 4673.