San Antonio.- Lines stretched for blocks Friday morning as some of our country’s finest men waited in line for the simplest of life’s necessities.
These fine men were the ones who courageously fought and protected our country in during wars like Vietnam and the Iraqi War but are now homeless.
It’s shocking to think these brave men once walked in jungles littered with land mines and disease, braved brutal weather and the threat of IED’s (improvised explosive device). Today, however, they face a whole new hardship.
The annual Veterans Stand- Down, sponsored by The American GI Forum National Veterans made it their mission for the past 40 years.
In the military, a Stand-Down is used to give soldiers a break from the stresses and dangers while in battle, hence the name of the event.
Various support groups were on hand passing out backpacks,clothing, basic toiletries socks and offered various career and health services.
“Our veterans need help,” said USAF Aerospace Medical Technician, Kristoffer Drone. No veteran should be homeless, so we’re doing anything we can possible to help them mentally, spiritually, physically to try to help them.”
Veterans make up 23 percent of the entire U.S. homeless population, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimate that there are as many as 200,000 homeless veterans on the street on any given night and that 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the year.
“There are hundreds of homeless on the streets of San Antonio,” explained Van Mitchell, director of business operations for The American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program.
Mitchell, a 26-year veteran served as a Sgt. Major, shared that it makes him proud every day that the organization is able to provide services to homeless veterans.
“It’s a HOOAH moment,” he shouted with pride.
“Some of our veterans aren’t going to make it when they return from duty and find a job so we’re here to help provide those resources,” he added.
Dennis M. Ayotte, Jr. is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. He may be reached at email@example.com.