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Stand Down for Veterans is April 26 in Detroit Lakes

Veterans will have the chance to receive some free services, including free legal advice, at an April 26 Stand Down from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kent Freeman Arena at the Becker County Fairgrounds.

Services will include free meals, help with VA benefits, free clothing (military surplus for homeless veterans), help with housing and public benefits, information from the state DMV, chaplaincy aid, and employment assistance, said Lauri Brooke, veterans service officer for Becker County.

"We've budgeted $1,000 for it," she told the Becker County Board on Tuesday.

If past stand downs are any indication, veterans can expect to find dozens of vendors, as well as all major veterans' service organizations, several VA workers, the Vet Center, which provides counseling services, tribal veteran services, Wounded Warrior representatives, behavioral healthcare professionals, Social Security representatives, Food Pantry volunteers and family services workers.

In the past, there were representatives from the public schools and colleges in the area, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar's offices, the Freedom Resource Center, the Compassion House, services for the deaf and hard of hearing, military chaplains services, Rural Minnesota CEP, the Red Cross, Justice Outreach, the Fergus Falls Veterans Home, the Senior Network, and several healthcare organizations, to name just some of them.

Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota will also be there, one of the rare opportunities for veterans to get free legal advice, since that isn't something normally provided by veterans service organizations, Brooke told commissioners..

Usually haircuts are also provided, but she isn't sure if that will happen this time or not, since the Bemidji barber hasn't yet confirmed.

In the past, the Disabled American Veterans outdoors program had staff on hand to sign veterans up for hunting and fishing trips using all-terrain tracked wheelchairs.

The Wounded Warrior guide service takes disabled veterans hunting and fishing.

The original stand down for homeless veterans was modeled after the stand down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations, Brooke said.

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.

That purpose still stands today when Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans hosts a stand down for homeless veterans and those experiencing an issue that has become a barrier in their lives.

The idea is to bring many services to one location and make them more accessible to all veterans who otherwise may not seek out services or take advantage of benefits due to them.

MACV hosts a number of stand down events throughout the state during the year. The Metro Stand Down is a two day event, the other MACV stand downs that are held throughout the year are one day events. These events offer the same one-stop services — this ability to gather so much information and receive assistance from multiple agencies at one time is a hallmark of MACV stand downs.

For more information about the Detroit Lakes Stand Down event on Wednesday, April 26, call the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans at 218-722-8763. The welcome ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m.

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