Homeless veterans get a helping hand

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “We just need that little bit of love in our life… where we can… feel good about ourselves.”

Stanley Williams, an Army vet who once lived on the street, struggling with substance abuse, just graduated college. All of this after years of hard work.

“By me going to school, and volunteering at Sparrow and in the kitchen at the VOA…. I was showing initiative to… get better,” he explains of his resilience.

On Wednesday in Lansing’s Adado Riverfront Park, the 13th annual “Stand Down,” aimed to help homeless veterans. People sang while others handed out basic home goods. All of this, to help our vets-especially those who go unnoticed.

It’s all to “provide direct service to those who we still may be missing or who are new to homelessness,” explains Volunteers of America Executive Vice President Patrick Patterson.

A hot meal, even a new haircut can go a long way.

“They don’t get the luxury of going to the barber shop and paying $15 for a haircut,” pointed out one Aveda volunteer.

VOA also brings medical services to the vets, an important helping hand considering the City of Lansing says more than half of homeless veterans have a disability, making it difficult to even apply for aid.

“Try getting forms filled out when you can’t see,” said Patterson.

Michigan National Guard Brig. Gen. Mike Stone says it can be hard to recognize a vet in trouble.

“Veterans are not the type of people culturally, who naturally ask for help easily.”

Patterson calls the event a “carnival atmosphere.” There are tents filled with food and music. And with a community like that, it’s easier for veterans who need help, but don’t like asking for it to be welcomed with open arms. It’s our turn to help those who gave everything to help us.

If you know a veteran in need of help call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838).

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