More than 1,000 veterans gathered at Target Center to get help as part of annual Stand Down

"I think it's going to work out, it's going to turn out beautifully."

Susie Jones
August 14, 2018 - 2:33 pm
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Veterans from all branches of service attended the annual Stand Down at Target Center today, a grassroots event organized be the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, to help connect homeless veterans with community groups. 

They had access to more than 60 service providers, including clothing, VA benefits information, chemical dependency treatment, recovery groups, haircuts and housing assistance.

"I feel great about it. I think it's going to work out, it's going to turn out beautifully," said Columbus Person, who was getting his head shaved.  He's a marine with a joyful spirit who is at the Stand Down for a number of reasons. He is homeless and he's getting help finding a permanent home. 

His hair stylist is Alexis Resch. She explained why she is volunteering. "I am a veteran myself, and I know what it means to give back, to help my brothers and sisters."

One of the more pressing needs for veterans is legal help. Many of them have minor criminal claims, and as part of the event, there are judges on site to help resolve their cases, "This gives them a clearinghouse to get rid of those things so they can get the services they need without fear of being arrested anytime they try to get services," said Jake Jadgfeld, a private attorney who was volunteering his time.

Jon Lovald is with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.  He says the term "Stand Down" originated during the Vietnam War, when soldiers at the front line got a break from the action.  "They would go back to a safer area where they would get to have a shower, get a hot meal, and a couple of days when they weren't getting shot at." 

Dozens of volunteers and other organizations pitched in to do their part.  Liz Speiker is with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon South of the River.  They setup a table set up with a lot of goodies and some necessities, including quilts, hats, scarves, SPAM, canned chicken and protein bars." 

Jacob Whitsitt, 16, is handing out blankets and other clothing items at his table. He's a boy scout, and this was part of his project to become an Eagle Scout. 

He collected clothing and money and was able to hand out hundreds of back packs filled with supplies. "It's really awesome to see the hero's of our nation coming together. And in their time of need, it's good to be able to help out people who have helped us."