'Stand Down' offers homeless vets access to services, benefits, clothes
Some three hundred homeless veterans went to Seattle Central Community College on Thursday for a "Stand Down" event where they could access health care and counseling and learn about disability benefits or other services. At the end, they could leave with a new backpack, a jacket, socks and other essentials for life on the streets.
Seattle Times staff reporter
GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMESVietnam veteran Jerry Shaw, 57, picks out a sleeping bag from a pile of government-surplus items Thursday.Jerry Shaw, a rail thin Vietnam veteran, entered the gear room at Thursday's "Stand Down" at Seattle Central Community College and gazed at the huge piles of sleeping bags, gloves, hats and jackets.
"This will save lives here this winter," Shaw said. "If it only saves one, it will be great."
Shaw was one of about 300 men and women who showed up at the event, which offered homeless veterans a kind of one-stop shopping, where they could access health care and counseling and learn about disability benefits or other services. At the end, they could leave with a new backpack, a jacket, socks and other essentials for life on the streets.
The event was a cooperative effort launched by veteran and student Sam Barrett, 30, and involved more than 50 agencies and organizations. Barrett is a Seattle Central graduate now attending Seattle University, and both institutions helped sponsor the event.
King County officials estimate 2,500 to 3,000 veterans are homeless in King County, and their plight has twice-spurred voters — in 2005 and again this past August — to approve a special levy to help improve their lives. The levy has raised more than $13 million a year for veterans and was one of the funding sources for Gossett Place, a 62-unit low-income housing complex that opened in Seattle's University District earlier this week with some apartments set aside for homeless veterans.