Valley veterans are invited to bring their families and their musical instruments to the Ravalli County Fairgrounds this week for the annual Ravalli County Veterans Stand Down. The event is sponsored by the Veteran’s Administration and its bare bones intent is to provide some necessary items to homeless veterans.
Each eligible veteran will receive a sleeping bag, a parka jacket, boots, socks, underwear and a duffel bag. But DAV Montana Service Officer Eric Wells emphasizes that there is more to the event than handing out some crucial items to those most in need. There are also some free services available like a free eye exam from an optometrist and, possibly, free haircuts, if he can find a willing barber. He said it is planned to be a day for all veterans and their families to gather together and share stories, songs and food and, in general, have a good time.
The event is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2 and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The Elks Lodge is providing food and the feasting runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We have stages set up for music and are asking people to bring their instruments and be ready to play. Everybody else needs to be ready to have some fun and spend a relaxing afternoon,” said Wells.
Wells said that supplies, paid for by the Veteran’s Administration, are limited. He said only those veterans meeting the VA standard for being categorized as “homeless” are qualified to receive the supplies and said about 85 had been identified in Ravalli County. He said he ordered enough supplies for 100 people just to be sure everyone was covered if they came. Anything left over will be given to local programs that serve homeless veterans throughout the year.
According to Wells, by next year the criteria for determining qualifications for the items may cover a broader spectrum as a new criteria is implemented under the McKinney Act which covers both homeless and near-homeless veterans.
Anyone wanting more information about the event may contact Eric Wells at 406-240-3303.