Helping local veterans with a "Stand Down" event

Mar 8, 2017

Hundreds of local veterans got a chance to get referrals to much-needed services on Wednesday.

The event is sponsored by the Veterans Outreach Center once a year, and it’s what Executive Director Todd Baxter says really provides a one-stop shop for local veterans who may be in need of a variety of services, everything from counseling, to housing, employment, health care and others.

The event held in the Harro East ballroom attracted a variety of men and women who served their country in different wars, including Vietnam.

One Vietnam Vet WXXI News spoke with, David Triplett, was only 17 when he served in the infantry in Vietnam and when he came back to the U.S., he says that was a time when veterans weren’t well liked by a lot of people.

Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

“That took longer…to grab, than going to Vietnam;  I’d rather have been killed in Vietnam, than the way I was treated when I came back here.”

Erin Militello  is a program manager for the V-A, and she says just having a lot of veterans all under one roof, at this stand down event, provides them with a lot of emotional support.

“The veterans know what veterans have been through and it’s comforting to not have to say it but just to know that you are around other people that have had similar experiences, it’s extremely important.”

That’s a feeling echoed by one of the volunteers helping out at the Stand Down, James Jenkins, who served as a Marine in Vietnam.

“We’re like one big family, a veteran is always a brother , no matter, race, creed color, whatever, we all are a family, we all are there to help each other."

Todd Baxter is the executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center. He says it's important to reach out to vets who may not know where to turn when they need help. “Sometimes there are so many moving parts and if you have an emotional issue or a physical issue, transportation issue, you might just disengage and give up on all the systems because it can get confusing, it can be an overwhelming experience. So to have everybody in one spot with a counselor to walk you around and introduce you to people and develop those relationships, hopefully gets people back into the systems and get the help they want." Baxter says the VOC also works to coordinate with other veterans outreach centers around the state. 

Video by Martin Kaufman: