Annual Central Brevard ‘Stand Down’ Set Jan. 26, Will Assist Homeless and Needy Veterans
By Space Coast Daily // January 5, 2019
at the Cocoa Armory on Fiske Boulevard
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – During the heaviest combat in Vietnam, small units were given a chance to take a break from the battlefield for a day or two. This practice came to be called a “Stand Down.”
The troops would get hot showers, hot food, some beer, a much-needed rest, a haircut, treatment for minor medical issues and the opportunity to write letters.
Decades later, the “Stand Down” has become a big part of the Space Coast veterans’ community but now has a very different meaning.
On Saturday, January 26 from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., more than 100 area homeless and needy veterans will get to “Stand Down” at the Cocoa Armory on Fiske Boulevard.
Here they will receive food, excess military and other clothing, backpacks, medical and vision check-ups, PTSD treatment advice, financial counseling, information on VA benefits, haircuts, hot showers and much more.
The event will be the 23rd Annual Central Brevard “Stand Down,” sponsored this year by the Veterans Memorial Center, the National Veterans Homeless Support, the VA, Volunteers of America and Eastern Florida State College.
It will also be supported by several other companies, individuals and veteran organizations. More than 150 volunteers are expected to help that day, serving as escorts for every homeless and needy vet.
As the day unfolds, each veteran and his/her escort will have the chance to fill a new backpack or bag with many essentials, and an opportunity to talk to or get help from dozens of professionals.
These volunteers really care about our veterans. Giving up their day, and spending, in many cases, their own money to contribute, will be a gift that goes beyond providing a new jacket or pair of socks.
It should create a positive memory for both individuals, as well as all those who have been planning since this past summer to make this day a special one.
Color Guards and support workers from Viera and Rockledge High Schools, JROTC units, and the Courageous Division of the Sea Cadets will be at the “Stand Down” as the event unfolds in the Florida Army National Guard Infantry “Bad Company” Home in Cocoa.
Local businesses and Veterans’ Groups will provide support and treatment; or funds to defray the cost of food and drinks, tent rentals, transport vans, and other support materials not previously donated.
There will be a mini-job fair to assist able vets with employment options, and even provide them with clothes for future job interviews.
Funding has already been received from the Good Deeds Foundation of the Cape Canaveral Chapter of the Military Officers Association (MOAACC), and the Defense Department has already provided winter and other clothes, boots, and gear to be distributed.
After the holiday season, with only four weeks remaining, the organizers anticipate that more companies and organizations will come forward.
Just as it was to the Vietnam War Combat Soldier, the “Stand Down” later this month in Cocoa will be a treasured and great memory for all who participate – on both sides of the equation.
If you would like to contribute anything, from a special service to money, new toiletries, or quality used clothing, you too can support this tradition. Please contact the Veterans Memorial Center on Merritt Island at 321-613-2403, and ask for Bob Doyle, Dorothy Walsh or Donn Weaver.
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