Originating in San Diego seventeen years ago, Stand Downs have been used by the Veterans Administration (VA) and its federal, state, local and community partners as an outreach event for thousands of homeless veterans. Stand Downs are typically one to three days of providing services to homeless veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. More than 200,000 veterans and their family members have been assisted over the last decade.
The Region IV Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) in Atlanta, GA, recently held its first regional Stand Down at several locations throughout Atlanta. According to Mrs. Linda Watson, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Southeast Network, (VISN 7), these Stand Downs were open to all homeless individuals - not just veterans - and offered an array of services ranging from medical and mental health screening to haircuts. The Stand Downs presented an opportunity to open up new outreach sites and to target homeless populations that may have been underserved in the past. For instance, in Atlanta, Stand Downs were held at the Atlanta Day Shelter for Woman and children and at the Latin American Association.
Between 10-15,000 homeless individuals have been served at past Stand Downs in the Region, and more than 4,000 volunteers from federal agencies including HUD, VA, DOL, HHS, Education, USDA, Energy and the Federal Executive Board have participated. The intent of these projects is to provide an all-inclusive response to serve the needs of homeless children, women and men in need of supportive services and resources.
This event took place the week of October 23-30, 2004.