Albany – United States Navy Veteran Kevin Rose, 68, and his wife of Halsey were living out of a car in 2015. The veteran, who served in Vietnam as a gunner’s mate, set his sights on finding a way out of their situation. Rose contacted Community Services Consortium (CSC), where he not only was assisted with housing, but also learned about the area’s Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event.
Stand Down for Homeless Veterans is a nationwide movement locally coordinated by CSC in which businesses, agencies, and community partners offer services and items to homeless and low-income veterans. However, all veterans are encouraged to participate. This year, the third annual event will be held September 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Linn-Benton Community College, 6500 Pacific Blvd. SW, in Albany. This is a change of venue from Lebanon in years past.
“We decided to move to Albany to be closer to I-5, also Benton County,” said Dina Eldridge, CSC Housing Services Manager. “We just think most of the VA (Veterans Administration) providers are based in Albany. We just hope we get a bigger turnout since it is easier to find.”
Last year 93 veterans, including Rose, attended the event where 56 agencies and organizations offered a hand up such as: mental health and addiction counseling; employment; VA health insurance opportunities; dental van; Samaritan Health Service health screenings; clothing; hygiene products; housing through CSC; camping gear from the Department of Defense; IDs with Legal Aid assistance; free food; benefit assistance from Social Security; and more, according to Eldridge.
“I have never seen such a turnout for veterans my whole life. It was awesome last year,” said Rose. “I never, ever heard of anything like this.” Rose received clothes sleeping bags, cots, sunglasses, and a haircut. “Stand Down is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. It was the first haircut I had in years.”
Around the same time, Rose and his wife also moved into a rental home with CSC’s assistance. He said he is thankful for the help he received from CSC Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)Case Manager Connie Barkdull, Eligibility Clerk Scott McKee, and Department of Labor Disabled Veterans Outreach Representative Steve Hickson.
Additionally, Rose said the event served as a place for veterans to meet other veterans. He feels this is very important, especially to younger veterans.
“They should go, if not for anything else, to talk to one another,” Rose encouraged. “There are a lot of vets that still need help. I’d like to see them get it.”
This year’s event is in the planning stages. Sponsorships and cash donations from local businesses and groups who want to help veterans are sought. Food, services, and haircuts are just a few areas of need. Eldridge explained the United States Department of Labor provides limited funding, but the money is specifically earmarked and does not cover such services as the dental van. Transportation for veterans to and from the event is also being coordinated.
Interested businesses and agencies can contact CSC Case Manager Connie Barkdull at 541-928-6335 x 312 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Landlords interested in renting to veterans can contact Eldridge at 541-928-6335 x 324 or email@example.com. Homeless veterans in need of housing contact McKee at 541-704-7638, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. CSC is a community action agency for Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties.