Brighton Center

‘Stand Down’ helps veterans regain their footing

16 of Brighton Center's Retired and Senior Volunteer Propgram (RSVP) volunteers spent several hours last week packing hygiene items and clothing bags for distribution at the Disabled American Veterans’ national headquarters in Cold Spring for the Oct. 14 Stand Down event. Three of our RSVP volunteers also cut hair for several hours during the Stand Down. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote the following article about the event: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/campbellcounty/2016/10/14/dav-helpsnky-homeless-veterans/92073846/ 

Chris Mayhew/The Community Recorder

COLD SPRING – U.S. Army veteran Mike Biggs exudes the kind of success sought by organizers of an annual regional homeless veterans day.

Off the streets less than a year, Biggs’ new full-time job put him in position to hug some of 300 homeless veterans gathered for help at Disabled American Veterans’ national headquarters in Cold Spring Oct. 14.

The DAV “Stand Down” brought 200 people from 50 agencies together to help homeless veterans with comforts including housing referrals, free hot meals and haircuts. Every veteran received chances for medical exams and care packages filled with a blanket and food. Buses from VA Medical Center in Cincinnati brought veterans to DAV’s door off U.S. 27.

“I was on the other side of that table a year ago,” said Biggs, who was living on the streets of Newport in 2015.

The 57-year-old, who was an Army medic, at the Stand Down sported a blue employee badge from Brighton Center, the nonprofit social service provider in Newport. Biggs has worked as a financial aid officer to people seeking assistance for a month. A year ago he entered Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training to escape the streets.

Outside the DAV, veterans fighting to escape drug abuse flashed smiles as “play ball” was shouted and a softball game started between two residential drug treatment houses in Cincinnati.

Iraq War U.S. Army veteran Randy Schmidt, 28, played catch to warm up for the game. Schmidt said he hasn’t had heroin in 60 days since becoming a resident of The Joseph House in Cincinnati.

“I’m an addict getting treatment,” said the Price Hill native.

Schmidt said he spent 18 months in Iraq in 2008 and 2009.

This was the first year DAV organized Stand Down — which was previously hosting by Bellevue Vets.

A stand down is a military term for “stop operations” and assume a relaxed posture, said Steven D. Wilson, DAV assistant national communications director.

“We use the terminology to indicate we want to stop veteran homelessness,” Wilson said.

Veterans were provided with free dental care, health screenings, inoculations and hygiene kits.

U.S. Army Col. Ben Bigelow showed up as one of the few people still in uniform at Stand Down. Bigelow is deputy commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I’m here supporting our veterans,” Bigelow said.

DAV is a member of the nonprofit Soldier For Life organized to support veterans with job placement assistance and other programs. DAV is an important veterans support organization, he said.

“The DAV, they take care of our veterans from the time they leave the military until the time they pass,” Bigelow said.