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next Rotary meeting?’ Help them ex- pand their network.” She adds that providing career-


transition services can be a great recruiting tool, offering a natural opportunity to talk about the chap- ter. “I just had to print out more membership applications,” she says.


Lending a hand More than 10 percent of the adults who experienced home- lessness in 2015 were veterans, re- ports the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The most effective programs to help homeless veterans, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, are community-based, nonprofit “veter- ans helping veterans” groups. “Stand Down” events are examples of these important programs. Nearly 30 years ago, Veterans Vil-


lage of San Diego held the first-ever Stand Down to assist local homeless veterans, many of whom fought in the Vietnam War. The three-day event brought together VA service providers and other government agencies and community organiza- tions to help homeless and at-risk veterans. The idea took hold, and Stand Downs now are held in cities across the nation. Many MOAA chapters support


Stand Downs in their communities, including the Catawba Valley (N.C.) Chapter (www.moaa.org/chapter/ catawbavalley). In April, chapter members supported the fifth annual Foothills Homeless Veterans Stand


Down in Hickory. According to chap- ter President Col. Joe Cansler, USA (Ret), about 250 veterans from five counties received medical, dental, employment, and tax-prep assistance, plus support from chaplains and vet- erans service officers. “It’s an all-day event that helps a tremendous num- ber of veterans,” Cansler says. With help from the USAA/MOAA sponsorship fund for council and chapter community-focused events (learn more at www.moaa.org/us aasponsorship), the Catawba Valley Chapter was a gold-level sponsor for the Stand Down. In addition to providing monetary support, chapter members also were on-site to lend a hand with various aspects of the Stand Down, including greeting vet- erans, organizing attendees, and help- ing to distribute food and clothing. This was the chapter’s first year sup- porting the Stand Down, and Cansler


says the age of the veterans in atten- dance surprised him. “They are not young kids, and there are a lot more out there who need assistance,” he says. Because of this, chapter mem- bers plan to continue helping at fu- ture Stand Downs. “We will definitely be there in the


future,” he says. Chapter members “have a lot of interest in taking care of homeless veterans, and they want to help locally.” He encourages other MOAA


chapters to consider supporting Stand Downs in their communities. “Volunteer work builds spirit in the chapter,” he says. “There was a very positive reaction to the event, and the volunteer organizations were extremely exuberant about their work. It was a great feeling.” MO


— Blair Drake is a contributing editor to Military Officer. Her last feature article was “Working for You,” May 2014.


64 MILITARY OFFICER OCTOBER 2016


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