Spokane veterans will have a chance to access supplies and resources as well as connect with other former service members, during a Stand Down event Saturday.
The Stand Down, with more than 40 vendors and nearly two dozen sponsors at the West Central Community Center, has found tremendous community support, organizers say. The resources available will include housing, food, employment, education and help connecting with Veteran Affairs.
“Bringing this type of event to Spokane just furthers our ability to help veterans in need of resources as well as veterans who are experiencing homelessness,” said Becky Tuno of the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department.
The Greater Spokane Food Truck Association will provide lunch at 11:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the event starts, while Spokane Tribe of Indians members perform in a drum circle. State Department of Veterans Affairs Director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos will speak to veterans about why Stand Down events are important.
Dave Lucas, a retired Marine Corps officer and Continuum of Care Veteran Leadership Committee member, will emcee the event, which runs until 3 p.m.
“Most of the efforts in the past have been focused around the VA or have been focused around maybe the city, where this is such a community-wide, comprehensive event to connect with our veterans,” Lucas said. “That’s what I think is really special.”
The city of Spokane hosted a number of events focused on different populations within the homeless community last year, including veterans, in conjunction with the annual point-in-time count. About 1,300 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in Spokane last year and about 80 of them were veterans.
After last year’s event, Tuno said she identified potential funding sources for a larger Stand Down event through the VA. Other community leaders helped organize it, Tuno said. She said she expects to see around 150 veterans Saturday, including people from outlying areas.
Tuno and Lucas said the event is important for giving veterans a chance to meet one another and swap stories.
“We really want to be able to foster a space for camaraderie,” Tuno said.
The event will be a part of this year’s point-in-time count, Tuno said.
“Our goal is to make this an annual event that we can grow and shape,” Lucas said. “Us, as veterans, we’re very grateful for (community) support. It means a lot to us.”
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