Stand Down for Homeless Veterans in Augusta 

Saturday at the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta, the goal was providing everyday services to those who were once in service.”We’re doing a homeless stand down, which is an outreach event trying to bring in homeless veterans,” said Ryan Lilly, Director of VA Maine Health Care System.For the past 15 years they’ve been holding this event to help get veterans back on their feet.”Hook them up with health care services, employment opportunities services, counseling, and essentially just try to get them connected with services, show them some available things and hopefully get them out if homelessness,” said Lilly.Becoming a homeless veteran can happen easier than you might think.”It’s all too easy, particularly in a bad economy like this. You lose a job, you have a marriage break up, something goes wrong with your family, you have a serious medical issue, you go bankrupt. Something goes wrong in your life, and before you know it, you lose your apartment, or your living in your car, or you don’t have the services you need,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree.For the volunteers here, it makes this event that important to the people it’s trying to serve.”I saw a couple of repeat faces from the last couple of years, but I also see new faces,”said Brian Danforth.Faces of all ages trying to support themselves and sometimes others.”I got married, we had a kid and literally a week after I got med-boarded out of the military because I got hurt in Iraq and it was just real tough not having that much money saved and then coming back here and have to support my wife and my daughter and know we’re just finally getting on our feet and getting it all together right now. It’s pretty good,” said veteran Thomas Blake.The ultimate goal is to help get the men and women who have served our country back to where they once were.”We know that veterans that are homeless were once high performing members of society. They were members of high performing teams, outstanding organizations, achieved great things personally and as part of larger groups, and so something has happened along the way that they are no longer in those circumstances, but we know they have it in them to get back there. That’s put goal is to help them get back on the road to success,”said Lilly.