Annual Stand Down Helps Homeless Veterans

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wichita community is giving back to some veterans who could use some help.

Friday was the 16th annual Homeless Veteran and Community Stand Down.

The stand down brought the homeless and many help agencies and groups together in one spot, giving them a chance to concentrate efforts at bringing relief to those in need.

What may have looked like a tent city was an opportunity for many of Wichita's homeless or near-homeless, particularly veterans, to get some help they need.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan joined those from previous wars. They are returning to an economy where jobs are scarce, particularly for those lacking highly marketable job skills.

"Work is the main thing," said Marvin Gray, Sr., a veteran who has been homeless for six years. "If you can get a job, you can keep a home. If you ain't got no job, you can't keep a home."

"Due to the economy, there's more homeless, a greater need for services like this -- a variety of community services such as this -- than we've ever had in the past," said Vets U.S. volunteer Tom Sanders.

At one stop, veterans can meet with local, state and federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. They can also get employment advice and more.

"We try to give them as much help as we can," said Patty Pratz, a volunteer for Disabled American Veterans. "Some of them won't come in for help, but they'll ask for it here."

A Vietnam War veteran, who goes by the name Wild Bill, said he would not be able to get a flu shot without the work of the VA Medical Center in Wichita.

"It's helping us get the things we need for living out here," he said. "Being homeless underneath bridges and out on the street because it's hard out here."

After getting the help that is available, for many homeless, it's back to their own reality which is home on the street.

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