CHICAGO (WLS) — This Veterans Day weekend, Our Chicago takes a look groups that are working to help veterans experiencing homelessness.
The Chicago Standdown will celebrate 30th anniversary. It is an event where veterans in need can find help to rebuild their lives, getting assistance for housing, finding a source of income and more.
The first Standdown event took place in 1988 in San Diego. The concept has since spread across the country, including Chicago, where two events are held every year.
The 2023 Winter Standdown is coming up on Thursday at the Northwest Armory.
Donald Donahue is a social worker at the Hines VA Hospital. He’s also an organizer for Chicago Standdown. He said they will also have giveaways for veterans living on the streets, including boots, blankets, long underwear and socks.
“Generally, it’s an opportunity for people to come in and get connected to services, get items they need and hopefully be prepared for winter,” Donahue said.
Each veteran experiencing homelessness has a unique situation and every case is different, Donahue said.
“We have veterans who have medical issues and due to medical issues are unable to work, fall behind on their bills and are struggling to keep their apartments,” Donahue said.
Work is underway across the country to bring down the number of veterans experiencing homelessness. Recent numbers show that figure is down about 11% from 2020.
As for the medical issues, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center is hitting the road to provide healthcare to veterans who are experiencing homelessness. That’s thanks to a new medical mobile unit that was recently unveiled.
“It was important for us to have it because we realized after the pandemic that many of our homeless veterans were unable to come directly to Jesse Brown,” said Regina Freeman, Deputy Chief Social Work Program Manager at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. “So subsequently we decided to bring the necessary resources directly to them by going directly to the streets, going directly into the community, going directly into many of our homeless shelters that serve many of our homeless veterans. We’re going to provide basic medical care, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, preventative care like vaccines, we’re going to do some health education.”
For more information on Chicago Standdown: https://www.chicagostanddown.org
For more information on the National Call Center For Homeless Veterans: https://www.va.gov/homeless/nationalcallcenter.asp
For more information on Jesse Brown VA Medical Mobile Unit: https://www.va.gov/chicago-health-care/stories/jesse-brown-to-deploy-medical-mobile-units-mmus-to-provide-health-care-for-homeless-veterans/