Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Answering questions about health services at the Bob Stump Memorial VA Medical Center was Susan Molina-Johnson’s primary task at Friday and Saturday’s Veterans Stand Down event.
But Molina-Johnson, director of Women Veterans Health Care, took the opportunity to convey an equally important message.
“Thank you very much for your service,” Molina-Johnson said as she shook each veteran’s hand.
Hundreds of veterans seeking employment, housing or legal assistance attended the Veterans Stand Down from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the United Methodist Church in Prescott.
Veterans received legal assistance, medical screenings, haircuts, and mental health support, and learned about community resources that could help them find a place to live, work, or assist with other issues during the event hosted by the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, U.S. VETS, and community partners, said Ame Callahan, spokeswoman for the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System.
“What’s important is all the community agencies coming together and reaching out to veterans to let them know we appreciate them and that there are resources here they can use,” Molina Johnson said.
For Jimmy Gray, who served in the U.S. Army, finding housing was critical.
“The housing in the most important thing I’ve received help with,” said Gray, who noted he had been living in his truck.
After visiting with agencies to learn about services, veterans picked up free hygiene items, cold-weather clothing, boots, backpacks, undergarments, sleeping bags, bedrolls, and food, said Skye Biasetti, operations manager of US VETS, which connects homeless veterans with local resources to help them live independently.
“We want them to use the resources here to help themselves,” Biasetti said.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar told a volunteer he’d be happy to put together dental hygiene supplies to be distributed to veterans.
“This is a great program that brings one-stop shopping for area agencies and services to our veterans, and the community support and outreach is amazing,” Gosar said. “The Veterans Stand Down also recognizes our commitment to our veterans. We know they deserve our thanks, respect, and greatest assistance.”