Stand Down event brings VA, other resources together in Jacksonville

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JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) Experts in the military community say Veterans often struggle with poverty and homelessness, which can be compounded by medical issues, and trouble communicating with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans were shown Tuesday that there are organizations dedicated to combating these challenges, at the Jacksonville American Legion Post 265 Veteran Stand Down event.

This was the 10th year for the event that offers free things to Veterans, ranging from food and clothes, to services, resources, and information. This was the first year Veterans could talk to someone from the VA.

Veteran Timothy Newton said, "I started going into diabetic comas. I started suffering from paralysis."

Newton says his story is too common, where he realized years after getting out of the military, his medical issues could be attributed to his service. He's trying to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Newton says, "I filed my first claim in 2010 and have not received anything yet."

Newton is one of more than 100 Veterans who attended the stand down event.|
 

Jerrick Vernon, event organizer says, "This year, what's so exciting about the event, is the VA, themselves, are attending, and a lot of times, Veterans don't have the opportunity to connect with the VA up close and personal without scheduling an appointment, that sometimes can take weeks.

Along with the VA, were dozens of other organizations, including the local homeless shelter, which was home to 51 Veterans in 2019.

Cindy Williams with Onslow Community Outreach says, "It's very disheartening, and to think that we live in a military town and we have such a high population of homeless Veterans. It just shouldn't be that way."

Free food and clothes were also given out. Veterans didn't have to specify their need level. They just had to show a Veteran ID card.

The Eastern Carolina Human Services Agency organized the Veteran Stand Down event.