'StandDown in Phoenix' connects homeless and at-risk veterans with services

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A big event now underway in Phoenix is designed to help the homeless and at-risk veterans, by connecting them with needed services.

For the next few days, Maricopa County is holding its 14th Annual StandDown in Phoenix.

More than 2,000 homeless and at-risk military veterans are expected to receive temporary haven and assistance during the event at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

StandDown is a military term that refers to a brief period of time for a solider to leave an active combat area, to rest and regain strength before returning to battle. The Maricopa County StandDown event seeks to offer a hand up to former members of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Valley who now battle with homelessness and life on the streets.

The event's goals are to increase the community's awareness of the plight of the homeless American veteran. Over 70 service providers will be on-site to help veterans regain their independence.

The event includes: Municipal and Superior Courts, a full service Motor Vehicle Division office on-site, Social Security Administration office, multiple housing programs, VA medical, employment.

Wellness services will also be offered including acupuncture and behavioral health specialists.

Last year's StandDown served 1,759 veterans, and the event staff is anticipating serving nearly 2,000 this year.

"It's really great to see that we can provide and meet the need that's out there," says Rebecca Pringle with the Maricopa County StandDown. "What we're seeing is that there's a large need for these services."

The first Maricopa County StandDown was held in 2001 and has since grown to be the largest StandDown in the nation since 2011. The first annual report released in 2004 showed 414 veterans received services. That number grew to1,759 veterans last year.

The Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance (AVSA) was created in 2014, to pool resources and share best practices for StandDowns held across Arizona. Currently AVSA collaborates with nine communities under the 501c3 of the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.

Each community has its own leadership team to coordinate local StandDown activities. The Alliance supports each community by filling in service gaps, leveraging financial resources, building statewide relationships, and maintaining accurate data; creating a collective impact on the homeless veteran population throughout Arizona.

Veterans Memorial Coliseum
1826 W. McDowell Road in Phoenix
Opening Ceremony was held Thursday, Feb. 8.
Closing Graduation Ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 14

For information visit: arizonastanddown.org.