When veterans return home from war, they can end up feeling completely lost.
“They’re put out to pasture and they’re like ‘what do I do now?’” said Derek Mapes, who finished a stint in the airforce in 2010.
Often facing PTSD and homelessness, many veterans have a difficult time navigating the myriad of services and benefits available to them, Mapes said.
“It’s like dealing with the DMV,” he said. “You’re always in the wrong department.”
Mapes is a volunteer with Seattle Stand Down, a one-day comprehensive service program for homeless and disadvantaged veterans taking place September 11 that aims to address those problems. You can learn more and sign up to volunteer at theseattlestanddown.com.
The program, named after the military term for relief from duty, is in its third year of operation. Veterans can receive help signing up for VA and HUD benefits as well as a hot meal, a haircut, and a foot wash.
Many veterans do not know the full extent of the benefits they are entitled to, including disability and pension claims, Mapes said.
“That’s money,” he said. “Not much, but it’s money they’ve been missing out on.”
By consolidating all of the resources in one place, Mapes said Seattle Stand Down will be able to ensure veterans have a better understanding of the help available to them.
“All of these services are in one house,” Mapes said.
FareStart will be providing the hot meals as well as recruiting for their culinary training program.
Mapes said Seattle Stand Down is expecting to serve around 400 veterans with their volunteer staff of 150. Over the next few weeks, Mapes and other volunteers will be reaching out to the homeless community with posters and radio ads, trying to get the word out about the services available.
“Our issue is raising enough money and volunteer support,” he said.
The Seattle Stand Down will be occurring Wednesday, September 11, 2013 from 9AM-2PM at Seattle Central Community College’s Mitchell Activity Center. Women’s services will be provided in the Broadway Performance Hall across the street. Parties interested in getting involved can visit Seattle Stand Down’s website.