A push to help veterans in need in the Southern Tier. Stand Down provides resources and information to homeless and struggling vets. As our Melissa Kakareka tells us, many of the region's local heroes benefitted from the event.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- William Elliott served his country in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars. But transitioning from military life back to civilian life was a difficult task when he got home.
"I lived with family, sleeping on couches and stuff like that. That classified me as homeless," said Elliott.
And he's not the only one.
"It was tough. A lot of substance abuse issues, anger issues, incarceration issues. There was a lot of things facing myself, as well as a lot of other Vietnam vets," said veteran Ernest Bullock.
Many veterans continue to face similar issues when they return home. That's why the Veterans Health Administration and the American Legion Post 1645 hosted a veteran's "Stand Down" event in Binghamton Tuesday. Veterans were able to meet with representatives from a number of organizations to find what out what kinds of resources are available to them.
"We have areas to help with everything from employment, VA health care, dental programs, NYSEG is here. Pretty much any problem that a veteran could be facing, there is somebody here to deal with that," said Stand Down Coordinator Jason Davis.
In addition to providing assistance, organizers say the event also helps veterans realize that they are not alone.
"I'm very optimistic when I see the veterans show up because I know they are going to go tell two more people that there's people that care in this community and that there's partners who are willing to reach out. There's nothing to be ashamed about asking for hand up, not a hand out and that's what's going on here today," said Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program Coordinator Adam Ormsby.
Helping veterans get back on their feet now and in the future.
Stand Down events began in 1988 in San Diego, California. This is the third year that Stand Down has helped veterans in the Southern Tier.