This Thursday through Saturday Vets 4 Vets will be holding their annual Stand Down.
The Mercantile building at the fairgrounds
Thursday is the best day to be there if you need stuff.
To explain what this event is I wrote a letter for the Great Falls Inter-Faith Association. What follows is part of that letter:
The term “Stand Down” is themilitary term that means to cease or rest from combat operations, or a combatposture. In theatre it brings a time to resupply, eat, make needed repairs, andrest. Night brought the most danger and was met by a “Stand To” where a higheralert state is maintained. On returninghome from a combat theatre this means an extended non-combat posture. Anemphasis is placed on training and recovery. The warrior assumes there is no“night” coming. Our Vietnam War veterans did not receive this final stand down.They were met with a system that they could not trust and felt as though theytraded one combat operation for a new stateside one. In 1988 a group of VietnamVeterans hosted the first “Stand Down” event. A call went out to their fellowwarriors that they were welcome home and it was safe for them to come in and get the help they needed, anddeserved. They were told they could finally, and truly, stand down. Today wehave a new generation of warriors and the call, from those who trulyunderstand, to safely stand down is sounding louder and louder.
Vets 4 Vets of Montana is a grassroots organization with the intent to welcome our warriors to stand down. It isa mix of committed volunteers that range from retired veterans, active duty andguard veterans, and civilian community members. We are committed to serving ourwarriors with dignity and respect. This is our seventh year and we are going tohave the largest contingent of service providers of any veteran’s event in thestate. Our “Stand Down” is a three day event and it is free to all veterans.Our intent is to serve homeless and low income veterans. However, due to thedistrust addressed in the preceding paragraph if they were singled out then theywould not come in for the help they need. That is why we invite all areaveterans, regardless of era of service or nature of their discharge. During theevent veterans are required to see our community service providers. These rangefrom free eye and dental exams to mental health care services. They are giventhe opportunity to receive a free haircut, legal advice, and advice on lookingfor a job. After visiting all the service providers the veterans are given achance to receive free gear. This includes sleeping bags, cold weather gear,boots and much more.