What is a Stand Down?
In times of war, exhausted combat units requiring time to rest and recover were removed from the battlefields to a place of relative security and safety. 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.
A Stand Down event in the civilian world refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help our nation’s homeless “combat” life on the streets. Homeless individuals are brought together in a single location and are provided access to the community resources needed to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives. When community Stand Down events first started, they were exclusive to veterans and many still are. However, with the realization that homelessness is a community issue, many Stand Down events are open to anyone experiencing homelessness or is at risk for homelessness.
What happens at a Stand Down?
Individuals who attend a Stand Down are provided with a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie. It is a time for the community to connect with this population and address this crisis that affects each and every town, city and state in this country. The hand up — not a handout — philosophy of Stand Down is carried out through the work of hundreds of volunteers and organizations throughout the nation. We will not turn anyone away, although some services will be exclusive to veterans.
Stand Downs happen all over the country at various times throughout the year. Check out this list of events, which is updated regularly.
Why host one in the Athens area?
We do not host one
Stand Down events have been around since the late 1980s, and we started hosting one in the Athens area since 2016. Our colleagues in nearby Ross County have hosted an event for the past six years and have statistics to show many of our people are traveling to Ross County to get these vital resources. A group of dedicated individuals have decided it was time to bring these opportunities closer to home.
The need is great
The exact number of our homeless population is difficult to report. However, our human service agencies and community organizations tell us the need for helping our homeless population, and those at risk of homelessness, is immense and only seems to increase. Our Stand Down will bring together various agencies and service providers to provide a comprehensive system that encourages and assists our neighbors overcome their challenges. It provides a safe environment in which they can connect with people who have shared experiences and cultivate hope that they can rebuild their lives.