About one-third of the adult homeless population served in the armed forces and about 40 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and alcohol or drug abuse problems.
In an effort to reach out to those homeless and troubled vets, the Veteran Adminstration's Sierra Nevada Health Care System held its annual event at the California Building today . . . Stand Down 2003.
Bruce McCormack is picking out clothes for a job interview tomorrow. He served seven years in Vietnam until he was shot in the head by a sniper.
"It helps us out because certain clothing that costs too much to buy at a store we can get free like a new pair of shoes," McCormack says. "When you're living on disability checks it's kind-of hard to make it just on disability checks alone."
The goal of Stand Down is to provide Reno area veterans with one-stop access to services that will help get them back into mainstream society.
Services like free hair cuts.
Veteran Paul Hudson hasn't had one in eight months. "It's a day of blessings. God helped me get up and come over here. You've got to keep god in your life or you have nothing," he said.
Stand Down also provides job counseling, referrals for medical treatment and substance abuse treatment, HIV testing and help with transitional housing.
Everyone who attended today also got some treats - cakes, cookies and donuts donated by local grocery stores.
Ask he he thought vets are forgotten all year, vet John Henry Mraz Jr.said: "Yeah, ever since Carter but the Reno area does a real good job for the vets. I've had surgery here at the VA Hospital twice and they treat the vets pretty good in this town."
Twenty-five community and state organizations participated in today's event.