AMES, Iowa – Several Iowa State University departments, along with Story County and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will host the second annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down on Tuesday, July 29, at Brookside Park in Ames.
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Brookside Park’s Maple Lodge. It’s one of more than 200 Stand Down support initiatives held annually throughout the country, providing services including meals, clothing, dental and health screenings, haircuts, hygiene kits, sleeping bags, employment assistance and VA benefits counseling to those in need.
ISU Police Detective Nick Grossman and Veterans Services Coordinator Jathan Chicoine, both veterans, are among those leading the effort. They say there are some important things people should know about the Stand Down.
First, it’s all free. The Stand Down will be staffed by volunteers and fueled by donations from local businesses and individuals. Second, it’s open to anyone who is homeless or nearly homeless – you don’t have to be a veteran to attend. And third, all participants have to do is show up in a safe, secure environment. Children are welcome, too.
“While this event is geared toward veterans, we will assist anyone who is homeless or at risk of being homeless, veteran or not. Sometimes all people need is a little help to get back on their feet,” said Grossman, who also is ISU Police’s military liaison officer.
Last year, about 50 people received services. That may seem like a lot, but organizers say they hope to help even more community members this year.
“Homelessness (in Story County) is a bigger problem than the average citizen probably realizes,” Grossman said. “There is a whole community of homeless living within Ames that most people don’t see, at least not on a daily basis. If you don’t really have a mailing address and live on someone’s couch, for example, you’re technically homeless, too.”
Next Tuesday’s Homeless Veterans Stand Down is possible through the support of the following departments and agencies:
- American Legion
- Ames Police
- Iowa State University: ISU Police, Veterans Center, Risk Management, Student Counseling Services, Dean of Students Office, ROTC
- Story County: Veterans Affairs, Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs