The latest Veterans Stand Down held in Hamilton last week was a tremendous success, according to Ruth Decker, one of the organizers. Over 350 veterans, escorted by 250 spouses and/or friends, joined 200 plus other homeless or at risk community members who showed up to take advantage of the community’s generosity.
Decker said the tradition of the Stand Down began in California and was initiated primarily to address the needs of Vietnam War veterans and provide a place and atmosphere where they could stand down from the war. It focused primarily on the homeless and offered medical screenings, clothing, food, free haircuts and other things. Over the years the program spread and broadened to include all veterans. Now, in Hamilton, it has broadened to include the homeless and the “at risk,” whether they served in the military or not.
Decker said that for the first few hours only veterans with proof of service were allowed in. She said that veterans and their escorts made up two thirds of the people served. Over 150 blood pressures were taken and over three semi-loads of goods stacked on 150 pallets were distributed.
“It felt good to get that much in the hands of those who really need it,” said Decker.