Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
VA, Community Tackle Veteran Homelessness
For the fourth consecutive year, VA and the local community gathered at First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa for a Stand Down for Homeless Veterans.
Held Sept. 20, the Stand Down served 265 Veterans and 132 non-Veterans, and provided food, clothing, haircuts, health screenings and laundry/showers, along with information about housing resources.
“The Stand Down gives Veterans an opportunity to come to one place and gather the resources they need to exit homelessness,” said Melanie Goldman, Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC) Homeless Program Manager.
While the Stand Down was sponsored by the JCMVAMC Homeless Program, it also included services from the following community partners: Blue Star Mothers Chapter 1, Coffee Bunker, Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa, Community Voice Mail, Credit Counseling, Department of Human Services, Disabled American Veterans, GI Wishes, Iron Gate, John 3:16, Legal Aid Services, Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Workforce Oklahoma, Vet Center and 12 & 12, Inc.
“VA is unable to tackle the problem alone,” said Goldman. “It’s such a complicated issue. We have to have the support of the community on our side and fortunately we do.”
A total of 179 volunteers from both VA and the local community donated their time to provide critical services for Veterans.
Students from Clary Sage College gave back by providing free haircuts.
“It makes you feel good and it makes them feel good,” said Crystal Noble, an instructor at Clary Sage College. “It’s a win-win situation. We appreciate what the Veterans do for this country and all of us at Clary Sage College just really appreciate them.”
Mary Barnett, a member of Blue Star Mothers Chapter 1, was one of several volunteers who helped Veterans find shoes and clothing.
“We take care of the troops when they’re overseas,” said Barnett. “When they come back, they need help here too. So that’s what we’re here for.”
VA nurses, students from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing and Navy Reserve Sailors teamed up to provide health screenings and flu shots for Veterans.
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jonathan Crabtree said he was honored to provide medical care for the Veterans.
“It means a great deal,” said Crabtree, who is assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility in Dallas. “We’re investing in our past and also investing in our future. These Veterans have sacrificed a part of their life for our country and some of them are still sacrificing because of an ailment.”
Veterans who attended the event were grateful to receive assistance from VA and the community.
Edward Brown, an Army Veteran who recently received a housing voucher from the HUD/Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program and is living in transitional housing, said he was very impressed with the Stand Down.
“This was my first Stand Down,” said Brown. “I had heard so much about it and everything I’ve heard about it has come true. I needed a pair of Army boots and I found some. It’s more than I expected.”
Mack Cleveland, an Army Veteran who is living with his daughter in Tulsa, also attended his first Stand Down and hopes to find permanent housing.
“I am impressed with all the assistance that is available for us Veterans,” said Cleveland. “I really wanted to get some clothing. They told me I could get breakfast and I had breakfast fit for a king. I don’t have the words for how impressed I am with this. This is very good.”
To learn more about VA services for homeless Veterans, please visit our Homeless Veterans webpage.