New Castle News

October 21, 2013

Event aids homeless veterans

Lauren Rearick
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Area veterans in need were provided supportive services during Lawrence County’s third annual Veteran Stand Down on Saturday.

Hundreds were expected to attend the Cascade Park event sponsored by the Lawerence County Stand Down Committee and VA Butler Medical Center.

Stand Downs are one part of the VA’s efforts to provide services to homeless veterans. They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VA’s, other government agencies and community agencies who serve the homeless.

“It’s a great partnership with the community,” Sandy Beahm, event coordinator, said. “We share services with veterans and nonveterans and help people get off the street and offer them hope.”

The Lawrence County event offered health screenings, behavioral health services, food, job search support, social services, haircuts, house assistance and more.

The Primary Health Network and Erie Vet Center were on hand to offer these services to any interested attendee.

“We want people to know they don’t have to live like they’re living,” Beahm said. “We want to spread the word there is hope and services available. So many people don’t realize about the services the VA offers.”

Utilizing community-based clinics for the event, Beahm called it a win-win for all involved.

Entertainment was also provided with a tribute to 9/11, instrumental performances and a keynote speech from once-homeless veteran Ron Christopher.

Christopher shared his own story of utilizing and finding the VA, who in turn provided him employment as a homeless peer support specialist and aid after his struggles as a former alcoholic and veteran.

“A lot of people don’t know about the services offered by the VA,” Christopher said. “So many people don’t even realize they have homelessness in their community. There are people out there and we want to offer them different services.”

Though event organizers had high hopes for the turnout , numbers meant nothing in the long run.

“If we reach one person then it’s successful,” Beahm said. “We want people to know you can have struggles and difficulties and it’s possible to succeed. Whoever comes we want them to see there is hope.”