When Mike Moran first attended a Grand Junction Veterans Stand Down event a few years ago, he was homeless and in need of services. But shortly after that first event and with some help, he had a place to live.
"It took less than a month to get me hooked up," he said.
Now Moran helps as a volunteer so perhaps another homeless veteran can find the same help he received.
The Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center hosted its 22nd Veterans Stand Down event Friday at First Congregational Church. The event is for veterans in need and provides access to basic medical and dental services, a vision screening, and haircuts. Veterans can also get a flu shot at the event and learn about Social Security benefits, health care and job search assistance.
"This is very important," Moran said. "The veteran homeless population is quite large here."
Patrol packs, backpacks, cold-weather coats and combat boots were also available from the Department of Defense. Veterans could also sift through clothes donated by Eagle County Veterans Services Officer Pat Hammon.
Hammon attended her first Grand Junction Veterans Stand Down — one of more than 300 held around the country throughout the year — and said she was happy to contribute. The clothes she donated were left over from a recent house rummage sale.
"It's really impressive," Hammon said of the Grand Junction event.
Robin Trump, a clinical social worker at the Grand Junction VA who helped organize the event, said Veterans Stand Down is the perfect setting to engage with homeless veterans. These veterans are typically living in their car, on the street, camping or in transitional housing. The VA promotes the event through homeless coalition agencies and other organizations around town. Word of mouth in the veteran community also helps. With 193 veterans served Friday, Trump said this was the biggest Stand Down event in Grand Junction to date.
"The valley is outstanding in helping each other," Trump said. "We've already met with 10 people coming in next week to meet with an enrollment specialist."
Volunteers from Colorado Mesa University and the Patriot Guard Riders also came to help out, and lunch from Famous Dave's was donated by Joe Silzell with RE/MAX 4000 and Mickie Fischer-Rogers with Grand Valley Home Loans.