'Stand Down' event helps Detroit-area homeless veterans - KMSP-TV

'Stand Down' event helps Detroit-area homeless veterans

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By Amy Lange
FOX 2 News Reporter

DETROIT -- The 15th Annual Southeastern Michigan Veterans Stand Down will serve more than 600 veterans in two days who are at homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The Stand Down offers so many services in just one place, including help with state identification cards and driver's licenses.  Behind a curtain they actually hold court, clearing up traffic tickets and other legal matters.

There are an estimated 3,000 homeless veterans in Southeast Michigan and over the last several years a 14 to 22 percent increase in the number of homeless vets in the Detroit-area.

"It's worse because of the economy, especially in (the) Detroit-area with the auto industry, people losing their homes.  We're here to take care of our fellow veterans," said Norm "Gunny" Wilcox.

"Fortunately, there's a wave of patriotism, so we're finding that lots of employers are very receptive to wanting to hire the troops," said Tyrone Chatman from the Michigan Veterans Foundation.

However, there is always a need for more employers to hire people like John Shelton.  Now living at the vet center, he worked in a factory for more than 20 years and is learning new skills.

"I hoping to start school in January for heating and cooling ventilation, which is a one year program, and hopefully housing and all that will come about," he said.

He knows so many veterans come home with physical and mental issues.

"I thank God that these programs are available for us because without them, it'd be real difficult for us to succeed."

Karen Mitchell, a single mom with three children, is also looking for job opportunities, but right now she is concerned she and her children are at risk of becoming homeless.

"A lot of veterans are homeless, and we have a hard time getting back adjusted to regular life, so that's what I'm getting help with today," she said.

That's what the Veterans Stand Down is all about.

"Anything that we can take care of to give them a hand up not a hand out," Wilcox said.

"Seems to me that if there's any population that's deserving of whatever it is that we can do to help them, it has to be our nation's defenders," Chatman said.

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