Standing up for Stand Down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2005

A lot of media attention has been focused on the homeless

situation in Suffolk in recent weeks and months. Unfortunately, very little of it is encouraging.

The Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless currently finds itself the subject of a criminal investigation by the state police on the heels of the resignation of its executive director. Shelter funding from three major sources was also eliminated as a result of the shelter’s policy of closing on holidays – six families were evicted on the eve of Thanksgiving for alleged &uot;rules violations.&uot;

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But just at a time when the homeless appear to be losing ground in Suffolk, the Disabled American Veterans are coming to the aid of their comrades who find themselves in desperate straits.

Stand Down 2005, the first of its kind in Suffolk, began Tuesday at the Suffolk National Guard Armory and will run through Thursday. A coalition of agencies and businesses, including the Salvation Army, Social Services and area health providers, will be on hand to assist homeless veterans in obtaining the basic necessities of life. By Tuesday afternoon, several local veterans had already taken advantage of an opportunity they don’t get to experience nearly often enough.

Billed as two and a half days of &uot;safety and security,&uot; the anticipated 50 to 200 veterans from throughout Western Tidewater who show up will be provided three nutritious meals a day, free clothing, hair cuts, job counseling, legal services and a wide range of other support services.

On Monday we honored those who fought and died for our country. It’s appropriate now, and year-round, that we do what we can for those who served their countries and lived, but have fallen on hard times. The veterans have done their duty for us; now we owe it to them to give just a little back. The DAV and all agencies, businesses and individuals involved in Stand Down 2005 are doing a good deed by at least attempting to repay a debt shared by us all.