Hundreds of veterans who are in need of everything from toiletries and clothing to a job and legal aid are expected to turn out for the Homeless Veteran Stand Down in Billings on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Volunteers of America is working with the Office of Veterans Affairs to host the event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium, 1125 Broadwater Ave.

Military Veterans and their families are welcome to attend the Billings Veterans Stand Down event.

“We want to make local veterans aware of the services that we have in place for them,” Bill Holder, VOA Director of Veteran Services, said in a prepared statement. “The need for our services is great, in Billings, and we want to get the word out to veterans that we are here for them.”

The event is hosted by Volunteers of America in coordination with VA Montana Health Care System. VA staff and more than 30 Veterans service providers will be on hand offering services and assistance to veterans, including information about employment, housing assistance, legal services, VA benefits, social security and other programs. Medical staff will also provide free flu shots, according to a news release.

The original Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV). At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment, according to the NCHV. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.

That is the purpose of the Stand Down for homeless veterans, which brings these services to one location, making them more accessible to homeless veterans.

Since the first Stand Down in San Diego in 1988, the program has become recognized as the most valuable outreach tool to help homeless veterans in the nation today, according to the NCHV.

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