VA Western New York Healthcare System
Buffalo Veterans Stand Down Sets Records
Bigger and better each year, Buffalo has made its mark with the 2017 Stand Down. The momentum of over 17 years of holding Stand Down events and adapting to current needs of Veterans, are key components to the success. Stand Downs originally started as a way to reach homeless Veterans, offering them a chance to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. This event, open to Veterans of all eras as well as at risk Veterans, took place Friday, June 23 at Coca Cola field in the concourse and under tents outside. VA Western New York Healthcare System Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, Veterans One-Stop of Western New York, and WNY Veterans Housing Coalition are the primary coordinating agencies of the event that has grown each year with the support of more Veterans Service Organizations, not for profit agencies, and employers.
In 2016, Western New York was recognized as one of 33 areas nation-wide answering the former first lady Michelle Obama’s call to action, to successfully end Veteran homelessness. Western New York has always had great partnerships and support for Veterans, the key to connecting Veterans who may be in despair, to housing and services quickly. This year’s Stand Down event demonstrated Buffalo’s love for Veterans with over 370 individuals representing 160 programs and agencies. The record attendance of 618 Veterans, 168 more than last year, confirms the word is out, Buffalo is here to help. Over 100 volunteers assisted in registering, greeting, distributing food and supplies along with the 914th Airlift Wing out of Niagara Falls who provided tents and manpower to put them up.
Coca Cola’s concourse provides enough space and shelter for this size event rain or shine. The rain didn’t stop Veterans from coming in to learn about VA programs and get their blood drawn for Hepatitis C, HIV, cholesterol and glucose screening. “Stand Down offers an abundance of services in one location making it easy for Veterans to access them,” stated Kristen Weese, VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program Manager. “VA health care, community services, haircuts, education opportunities and jobs are all in one place today for Veterans.” The 28 employers searching for candidates to fill their jobs know Veterans possess skills such as discipline and leadership. Sharp Edgez Barber Institute provided 115 haircuts making sure Veterans looked their best. The longest line was for giveaways such as bedding, fleece hoodies and military issued surplus back packs.
Veterans in need of housing and other services can access them by calling 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) or in Buffalo at 716-881-5855 during normal business hours.