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Michiana Stand Down connects veterans to each other, community resources

NOW: Michiana Stand Down connects veterans to each other, community resources

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – The VA of Northern Indiana is hosting its annual stand down at the VA Clinic in Mishawaka on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Organizers like to call it a stand up rather than a stand down. They add it’s a day where veterans can come together and relax, but also connect with community resources that can help them.

Between 60 and 70 organizations will be at Wednesday’s event. Those partners will help veterans learn more about housing, employment, health care, and counseling opportunities offered in Michiana.

Veterans can also sharpen up their look. There will be free haircuts, clothing, and food.

“Maybe a spouse has thought about it, mentioned it, maybe a friend has thought about it,” said Michiana Stand Down co-chairman Kent Laudeman. “So this gives an opportunity to bring all those agencies and organizations together and refresh within the veterans mind, ‘Hey there are a lot of people out there that want to help the veteran that served his or her country.’”

Organizers say stand downs create a no-pressure environment for veterans to learn more about services they may have never thought about.

“Services are not foremost on their mind,” said Laudeman. “I mean, they’re more interested in getting reintegrated back, as far as their work is concerned and so on and so forth. And so, they tend to put a lot of services, I mean if you think about 60 to 70 agencies and organizations that have a little slice that they have in terms of helping veterans. I mean, that’s scattered throughout the great Michiana community.”

Since the Michiana Stand Down started six years ago, it has helped hundreds of veterans.

This year, the stand down will help Mikey Pierson and Michael Decker.

Pierson served in the Navy during the 90s and Decker served with the Army during the 80s. Both struggled with the transition back to civilian life.

They say because of their troubles, they didn’t think about services like health and dental care or counseling, but are excited to change that.

“Even now, I still don’t know everything that I can take advantage of,” said Pierson. “That’s why I’m going to the stand down, to find out more information and see if there’s more things that I can take advantage of to help me out in my situation.”

“You know, I don’t want to sound greedy, but like the colonel said, you should take advantage of what’s there for you, as far as help goes, and even talking to other veterans to find out what’s going on in their lives,” said Decker.

TRANSPO is offering free bus passes to help veterans get to the stand down. Additionally, Life Treatment Center will be running a free bus that makes multiple stops in downtown South Bend.

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