Stand Down event in Orange offers hand up to Veterans in need; see the details

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

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Numerous agencies and community leaders are working together to provide help for military veterans experiencing homelessness and near homelessness in greater Orange County.

Southeast Texas Veterans 4 Veterans is helping host Southeast Texas Stand Down from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Expo Center in Orange.

Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr. issued a proclamation setting aside May 19, 2023, as Veteran Stand Down Day in Orange.

His proclamation explained what the event was and noted its significance to local veterans.

One of the event’s aims is help veterans transition to independent living by providing access to human services agencies, including benefits, counseling, Social Security, employment assistance and health care screenings.

Seth Wells, retired Navy Veteran and current member of Southeast Texas Veterans for Veterans, talks about Veterans needs in the community. (Shari Hardin/Special to The Leader)

There are also counseling services available for legal assistance, mental health treatment and substance abuse help.

“Stand Downs have been used as effective tools in reaching out to hundreds of Southeast Texas veterans every year experiencing homelessness, near homelessness and their family members,” Spears said.

The event is focused on Veterans, but all community members are welcome to attend. There will be more than 25 nonprofits offering services to meet immediate and long-term needs. Those is need are privy to haircuts, clothing, duffle bags for those who qualify, VA claims and more.

Seth Wells, retired Navy Veteran and current member of Southeast Texas Veterans for Veterans, said the military community has been through things that a lot of civilians have not been through.

“We’ve seen some things, unfortunately,” he said. We’ve had to see them to do the business of this country. So we sincerely appreciate any time the community comes out. We appreciate the stickers and appreciate the yellow ribbons, but more than anything, we appreciate your face and your handshake. We also never want to miss an opportunity to thank our Vietnam Veterans and say ‘welcome home’ to that generation who didn’t get that when they came home.”

Wells stressed that although the event addresses critical needs in the Veteran community, the Stand Down is an opportunity for attendees and vendors to have fun.

Attendees enjoy a catered breakfast and lunch, door prizes and, most importantly, another opportunity to express gratitude to the nation’s defenders and remind them that they are not alone.

“One of the biggest things about these Stand Downs is we break the stigma of the angry sad Veteran,” Wells said. “We are members of your community. We’re your teachers, your doctors, your lawyers,  your restaurants workers. We do all kinds of things.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring discharge papers, VA healthcare cards, government-issued IDs or any other identification proving veteran status to access services.

Although the event is mainly for veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, anyone who attends and needs help will receive help.

— Written by Shari Hardin