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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

Stand down, run helps homeless vets

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The South Atlantic Center for Veterans Education and Training Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists homeless veterans, is hosting its third annual Red, White and Blue Veterans 10K and 5K run and 1-mile walk starting at 9 a.m. March 30 at the Rotary Park on Victory Drive.

The organization will also have its sixth annual stand down from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. A separate stand down for female veterans is also offered on the same day and location.

The stand down is an event for homeless veterans, which provides many services and goods such as breakfast, lunch, hygiene kits, duffle bags, day bags, legal services, federal and state services, local provider services, employment counseling, resume writing, medical screening, clothing, hair cuts, information on VA benefits and more.

SACVET was started seven years ago by a group of veterans led by Freddie Harrison Sr., chief executive officer of the organization. Their mission, Harrison said, is to provide support services to homeless veterans, including training and education.

Harrison said he and his wife had encountered other veterans while visiting military installations for hospital care. Some of the veterans he met were being discharged with no home to go to. This inspired him to start SACVET.

Harrison said he and others continued to talk to other veterans about their struggles, and realized something needed to be done.

“One of the major problems that a veteran has in getting himself together is having a place to where they can actually go and actually not have to worry about paying bills, having to leave (a shelter),” said Donald Killins, vice president.

He said it is especially applicable to homeless veterans who are struggling to become stable, and those unable to stay for extended periods of time in a homeless shelter.

Killins, a former homeless veteran, said he understood many of the struggles some veterans face after getting out of the service.

“Where can you go and get a job and take two suitcases with you everyday?” Killins said.

Harrison defined homelessness as not only being out on the streets but also not having a fixed, stable residence. “Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there,” he said.

The organization’s ultimate goal is to have one central location to help homeless and struggling veterans under one roof.

Harrison encouraged others to participate in the run because the money from the run goes toward supporting the stand down.

For more information about SACVET, how to volunteer, donate or participate in any event, visit the website at www.gcvret.org.

Info Box:

Red, White and Blue Veterans 10K and 5K run and 1-mile healthy walk

Starts: 9 a.m. at Rotary Park on Victory Drive

Fees: $15-$25, late entry fees $$20-$30. Proceeds go toward stand downs.

Registration: www.redwhiteandbluerun.com/registration.html

For more information: www.redwhiteandbluerun.com/

Sixth annual stand down and second female stand down for homeless vets

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

Services include meals, hygiene kits, duffle bags, day bags, legal services, medical screening, hair cuts, information on VA benefits, educational counseling, housing counseling, referrals for substance abuse and mental health counseling, employment counseling, job resource fair, resume writing, clothing, nursery services and more.

Looking for other ways to help?

SACVET is looking for job interview-type clothing for males and females for the stand downs. Clothes should be folded, clean, undamaged and reasonably wrinkle-free. No hangers. Items needed also include suits, handbags, socks, stockings, shoes and suits.

Drop-off locations: American Legion, Post 267, 3361 North Lumpkin Road on March 6 and April 20.

For more information, call 706-593-3393.

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