What is a Stand Down?
The Stand Down for veterans will be modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. We will offer our veterans an opportunity to come together, relax and receive information on the benefits they have earned. The SAM Center has brought together an array of organizations to cover everything from medical and compensation benefits to therapy and fitness programs.
The primary target is the veterans’ population in Stark County. The event will be for greater Stark County meaning that if a veteran makes it to the event, we will serve them. We will seek to invoke the stand down message from Vietnam. During that time, a stand down was respite and replenishment of resources. Any and all veterans that attend are welcome.
There are approximately 30,751 veterans in Stark County. Depending on the source, this varies from 27,000 to 32,000. Census numbers by zip code shows 30,751. For those over 18, 10% of Stark County residents are veterans. The veteran population is split evenly between over and under 65, 15,493 under 65 and 15,256 are over 65. There are 7,317 disabled veterans and 3,732 are disabled due to military service. Only 8,509 are vested in VA healthcare. This equates to 27.67%. This is slightly under the VA goal of 30%. There are 2,370 veterans living in poverty in Stark County.
We have 6,737 Gulf War Veterans, 10,685 Vietnam veterans, 3,243 Korean veterans, and 2,604 World War II veterans.
Is this a Homeless Event?
Akron and Cuyahoga have Homeless Stand Downs. Stark County has an event called Project Homeless Connect that was held on September 19. Our event is not a homeless Stand Down. At each of these events, participants walk out with bags full of free items. They receive a tremendous one time boost. We designed this event to be in addition to Project Homeless Connect. Veterans may approach you seeking items. It should always be explained that the Stand Down is focused on providing long-term assistance. If there is an immediate need, that can be listed on the registration. The SAM Center will follow-up on basic veteran needs.
What is a Veteran?
For federal benefit purposes, a veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of armed forces classifies as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged. However, with regard to applicable benefits, other considerations are important.
For most federal benefits, National Guard and Reservists will not qualify unless they have served a period of active duty or have a service connected disability. This is incredibly important in leading veterans to resources. The VA benefits will not be available to these veterans. They will be eligible for the vast majority of nonprofit based benefits and resources.
Why do Guides Matter?
Veterans do not know what they do not know. There are 90 tables setup and veterans may only choose to visit a few of the tables. The guides will help the veterans find the resources that are of the most value to them.
On the day of, we may change things. This is the first event. This is the largest veterans’ event in county history and the largest event any of us have taken part in. We may find that something isn’t working. One of you may have ideas on how things could work better. Please speak up. Throughout the day, we will look at our effectiveness. Guides will be asked to take veterans around to the tables. If a veteran does not want a guide, allow them to roam freely. We will have a few guides in the main area that can assist veterans.
Who do I report to and when?
Brook Harless and Bryan Bowman are chairing the event. There contact information is on the front of this document. On the day of the event, Veronica Cripple and Stephen Cripple will be handling volunteer sign in. Volunteers will enter through the left hand doors. These doors will take you into the front of the McKinley Room. If you go straight, there will be a small room on your right. Vern and Steve will be in that room. We are asking all of the guides to spend the first five minutes doing a walk through. This will give you an idea where items are located. Please do not try to walk through the event for the first time with a veteran.
Please report 15 minutes prior to your volunteer time. You will be given a brief overview and for those still needing them, t-shirts. The t-shirts will be grey. Team leaders will be wearing red t-shirts.
I just want an ID card
Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell is providing State Veterans’ Identification Cards. To receive a card, the veteran must provide and record their discharge. Many veterans will be attending for an ID card and nothing else. The recorder will complete the ID card form and ask the veteran to come back in 20 minutes. We would still like the veteran to complete the intake the form. The reason is the veteran does not know what he doesn’t know. From other ID card events, we have helped veterans with everything from disability compensation to home loans. They attended for an ID card and had no idea of the other benefits that were available.
In Ohio, the office of the county recorder is responsible for maintaining veterans' military service discharge records, known in military parlance as a DD214 form. These discharge records are utilized by veterans to prove their eligibility for certain benefits their military service has earned them. This identification card contains their specific document number, so the discharge record can be rapidly located when needed.
If a veteran would like to receive a card, they need to bring a copy of their DD214, and present one form of identification from among the following: a valid driver’s license, certified birth certificate, Social Security card, a valid United States passport, a valid conceal & carry permit, or an identification card from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. One of the forms of identification must be a photo ID.
What are we hoping for?
Recently, there were Veteran Mobile Office Hours held throughout NorthEast Ohio. The 7 mobile outreach events had an attendance of approximately 550. We had 208 veterans fill out a compensation claims, pension claims or receive assistance on their claim. From the awards, we have provided over $1 million dollars in annual economic benefit to the veterans through increased compensation or awarded compensation. Once all the claims are complete, this will likely double. For VA Medical, they made 79 contacts (information or applications) and 41 individuals have applied for healthcare that have never received it. That increased enrollment brought 246,000 to our local VA system.
In Akron, we met a veteran that was service connected for diabetes and didn’t realize his insulin would be covered by the VA. We were able to get him connected with the VA medical center. In Wooster, we talked with a veteran suffering from PTSD who was going through a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) with the Navy. He was able to connect with the VetCenter for counseling and with Legal Aide for a pro bono attorney to represent him. In Rocky River, we met over 20 veterans that did not have their service medals and several were World War II veterans. Strongsville had the largest crowd with over 250 veterans finding assistance. In Shreve, we helped several veterans file compensation claims and in Mogadore, we were able to welcome home several Vietnam Veterans. At each stop, we were able to make a life altering difference in the lives of 16th District veterans.
Mission BBQ Lunch
There will be a Mission BBQ lunch of pork sliders, baked beans and chips. The lunch will be open from 11am to 3pm in the McKinley room. This room will also be used for registrations. Please feel free to partake in the lunch. All veterans and volunteers should receive a blue ticket. Lunch will break at noon for the ceremony.
Vietnam Veterans’ Pinning Ceremony
At noon, we will be doing a Vietnam Veterans’ Pinning Ceremony. Mayor Bernabei, Ohio VA Medical CEO Susan Feuhrer and Ohio Department of Veterans Services Assistant Director Mark Cappone will be presenting pins to all Vietnam era veterans.
A Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin will be provided to all Vietnam era veterans. It is "A Lasting Memento of the Nation's Thanks!" Living United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin. U.S. involvement in Vietnam started slowly with an initial deployment of advisors in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965. The last U.S. personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975. This is why we recognize all Vietnam Era veterans from 1955 to 1975.
We have marked this event through Facebook Ads, word of mouth, 100 street signs and 4x6 cards. We will continue to market the event and hope to have free advertising. We will also do a direct mail piece to 6,000 veterans. Please go to the Facebook page and mark your attendance and share the event. This is our best way to reach the online community. https://www.facebook.com/events/732473223574150/
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