WOODSTOCK – Local agencies banding together this month to put on a “stand down” event for homeless veterans are hoping its attendees will walk away with more than a warm meal and coat.
Organizers are looking to line up county resources at the McHenry County Veterans Stand Down, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 22 at VFW Post 5040, 240 N. Throop St., Woodstock.
“It was just decided that, let’s go ahead and do a stand down and let’s do it differently than what’s been going on in the past,” said Mike Iwanicki, superintendent of the Veteran’s Assistance Commission. “We don’t want it to be just, ‘Here’s some free clothes, here’s a hot meal, here’s some information, have a good day.’ ”
The VAC is working with TLS Veterans, Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services, Illinois Department of Employment Security and McHenry County Housing Authority to put on the event, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The groups are also bringing in several other agencies to provide resources.
Stand down events aren’t new to the county, but this will be the first put on in a union of these agencies. Anyone can attend the event, but the meal, blankets, coats, socks and other giveaways are reserved for veterans who are either homeless or identified as at-risk of being homeless.
Those putting on the event will try to provide more than just information that could lead to help. Individuals will be able to sign up for several services on-hand based on need, Iwanicki said.
“The veterans themselves are the ones that are going to determine what the greatest need is, so it’s identifying what that need is and trying to address it on the spot,” he said.
A point-in-time count conducted in 2012 found 46 percent of 123 homeless adults tallied claimed veteran status. A year later, the number was down to 23 percent based on 111 homeless, but the decrease could be because a housing program that typically houses homeless veterans didn’t respond, according to TLS Veterans.
For more information about the event, call Barb Szul at 815-679-6667.