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May 19, 2013

New Albany, Jeffersonville celebrate Armed Forces Day

Events hosted to thank vets and draw attention to those in need



A group made up of about 20 different organizations was set up in Jeffersonville’s Nachand Fieldhouse also offering their support for local veterans.

About halfway through the event hosted by the Southern Indiana Military Support Network, Melissa Poole, AmeriCorps VISTA and organizer of the Stand Down, said about 60 veterans had already come through the doors.

“The stand down is an event to help former military members who are in need of assistance because they’re either at risk, or homeless,” Poole explained. “We’re hoping the people that are at risk find the resources they need to avoid becoming homeless. We realize a one-day event is not going to stop someone from becoming homeless ... but the idea of a stand down is to provide them with the resources. And it’s a humanizing event. The homeless, so often, get overlooked.”

Around Nachand Fieldhouse booths were set up offering a variety of services for veterans, from WorkOne, to family assistance specialists, the Ohio Valley Blind Association, the Red Cross, LifeSpring and Prosser’s school of cosmetology was even on-hand offering free haircuts for the veterans.

“This is an opportunity for people in need to meet up with one another,” Poole said. “It’s a sentence you’ll hear tossed around a lot, but military members write a check up to and including life and this is kind of a way to honor that. We want honor our veterans and thank them for their service. This year is the first year we’ve tried to pull together so many resources.”

Rick Phillips, Disabled American Veterans District 5 commander, said the need for veterans services in the region is apparent.

He said there are so many challenges when veterans return home from combat, often including dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries, that need to be addressed. Phillips added he is working on getting a Disabled Americans Chapter in Sellersburg formalized and is working on a variety of veterans’ issues in the area.

“We go out and do anything we can for a veteran,” he said.

Floyd County Superior Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger, who also serves as the Veterans Court of Southern Indiana judge, said many veterans deal with difficulties re-entering civilian life and the challenges of managing their care.

“They help create awareness and access,” she said of the stand down events. “There’s a multitude of resources. it’s just letting people know that they’re there. Not only does it help veterans, but it helps other resource providers  know what other services are out there.

“It is a wonderful message to the community how valuable ... our service members have been and it’s a way to support them and let them know we haven’t forgotten them,” Granger said.


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