Kim Bell-Nelson couldn't thank the organizers of the annual Stand Down event enough.
"There's a lot of stuff veterans are in need of, so it means a lot to you when people do things like this," said Bell-Nelson, who was in the U.S. Army for 15 years. "Some people think that just because you're a vet, everything is handed to you. I'm glad they are thinking about us."
Bell-Nelson was one of hundreds who came out to the event Friday. It was held by the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center at the Salvation Army office in Augusta.
The event gives homeless veterans and those who don't have a stable living situation the opportunity to receive items such as clothing, toiletries and other necessities.
They also were able to receive services from the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, the Public Health Department, Department of Labor, veteran service organizations and other local social service agencies.
It's about the 10th year the event has been held locally, but it has been taking place throughout the country since 1988, said Kathleen Scott, chief of the psychosocial residential rehabilitation treatment program and director of homeless initiatives for the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.
The first Stand Down event for homeless veterans was held in San Diego and was organized by a group of Vietnam veterans who modeled the event after stand downs held in the field, Scott said.
"They would bring soldiers in from the field and give them a safe, secure place to stay; get their medical and social needs met; give them new clothes; feed them; and give them some entertainment," she said.
Though statistics show that the number of homeless veterans is going down, there are still many who are out there, Scott said, adding that there's an increase in the number of homeless women veterans and homeless veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Amanda Rehms, a senior at Greenbrier High School, has focused her senior project on homelessness in the area.
"When I'm out in the community, I see a lot of people who are homeless and I feel I can help make a difference, help make things better for them," said the 18-year-old.
She was among the volunteers present at the Stand Down event.
"I'm volunteering with different organizations and finding out what the community is doing to help people who are homeless and what more can be done," she said.
She'll present her project's findings in the spring, she said.
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