PEPPERELL — Veterans Agent Joseph Mazzola has announced that Massachusetts Stand Down 2009, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is coming to Clifford Park on the Dorchester/Roxbury border on Friday, Aug. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. free of charge.
The event is designed as a weekend to honor homeless and at risk veterans by offering “a hand up, not a hand out” with a variety of free services that includes food, clothing, VA benefits, healthcare registration, legal assistance, voter registration, counseling, a job fair (bring resumes), and representatives from the IRS, state Department of Revenue, the Social Security Administration and social work services.
Registration opens at 8 a.m. on Aug. 28 at the park across from 1010 Massachusetts Avenue and Victoria’s Diner. There will be a free MBTA shuttle from Andrew and Ruggles stations.
Oral health and dental screenings are offered Friday only. The Registry of Motor Vehicles, Massachusetts I.D. Cards or driver license renewals, food stamps, housing workshops and other services will be available on Saturday. Housing assistance is geared toward homeless veterans.
For those who might know or might bring a veteran in need to the event, a “stand down” in time of war is where exhausted combat units are given time to rest and recover in a safe area removed from fighting. There, troops can clean up, acquire clean uniforms, warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail, and enjoy camaraderie.
This and other stand downs are collaborative events coordinated among local Veterans Administrations, government and community agencies who serve the homeless. The first was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam veterans in San Diego.
This year, event participation has been expanded to include any at-risk veteran who needs help.
According to the event’s advertising information, many homeless veterans have suffered years of chronic or recurring readjustment issues that are often inadequately addressed by tradition service oriented services.
A lack of structured collaboration amongst agencies can force veterans to go from one agency to another in often unsuccessful efforts to access resources they need.
Mazzola has personally helped at least two such men in Pepperell and Townsend this year.
“The stand down is a good thing,” he said, “and it can be difficult to find veterans in need.”
For more information, contact Gloria-Ann Vieira at 857-364-2717, at the VA hospital in Jamaica Plain, 150 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, Mass., 02130, Room B3-65.
Veterans are required to bring their military service record (Form DD-214) to the event.