The second Annual Myrtle Beach Stand Down for Homelessness event is Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the U.S. Army Reserve Building, 3392 Phillis Blvd.
The event is intended to serve homeless veterans and veterans at risk of losing their homes. The goal is to reach individuals in crisis and connect them with programs and services that will end their homelessness.
The estimated number of veterans living on the streets, in the woods or in other locations that are not in housing is a source of contention for some politicians and others. As I have searched agencies and articles recently, I have found numerous different estimates, which is somewhat understandable since you can’t count people you don’t see.
While estimates from various sources over the past few years have ranged from around 49,000 up to 200,000, the press release for this event puts the estimate at about 150,000.
Doris Gleason, director of outreach for the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP in South Carolina, up the event, which is hosted by the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center in Charleston and its Myrtle Beach outpatient clinic, in partnership with the AARP in South Carolina and the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center.
Other community partners include the Military Officers Association of America, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and the Combat Veterans Association.
The event is publicized by fliers and by other means to try to reach homeless veterans.
Members of the Combat Veterans Association go to the streets and wooded areas looking for homeless veterans to try to get them there so they can get assistance. Participants will be offered two hot meals, haircuts, showers, clothing, personal items, a variety of health screenings and more.
Representatives from more than 40 social service agencies will be available to provide information and outreach on a number of services, including housing options, job resources, substance abuse treatment and access to Social Security and VA services.
Gleason said the community has been very good to donate items for the homeless veterans.
“People are so incredibly generous,” she said.
They still need low-denomination gift cards from pharmacies, stores such as Wal-Mart, fast food restaurants such as McDonald's, Hardees, Chick-fil-A and others, and bus passes for Coast RTA.
Last year, 153 homeless veterans received assistance at the event. Gleason said they did not keep track of the veterans so they would know how many of them got homes or jobs and have not remained homeless or gone back to it.
“That’s one of the things we learned last year,” she said. “This time, we’ll do a better job of keeping up with them.”
There are many reasons veterans are homeless. Hopefully, some of those living in the shadows among us can find compassion, health care and homes at the Stand Down.
If you know where there is a homeless veteran, please try to get him or her to the event. If you would like to donate a gift card, call Gleason at 803-873-2266.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.