SPARTA, NJ - Free Evangelical Church in Sparta was the sight of a Stand Down for veterans on Saturday. Community Hope and Pass-it-Along sponsored the event that hosted more than 75 veterans.
The veterans were served a hot breakfast. They also had the opportunity to get a haircut, clothes, an HIV test and learn about numerous veteran's services from several organizations represented at the event.
Community Hope seeks to prevent homelessness for veterans and their families.
"It doesn't have to be blood marriage," according to Jenn Stivers of Community Hope. "It can be a friend, someone close to the veteran."
Stivers explained they provide rapid placement for homeless veterans as well as assistance to prevent them from becoming homeless.
"Homeless veterans are not necessarily the stigma you think of," Stivers said. "Sometimes they are college students who have no place to live in the summer or people who are working but have to sleep in their cars."
Stivers encourages veterans in need to reach out to her for assistance through the website , by calling 855-483-8466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stand Down was modeled after the concept during the Vietnam War where it would provide a safe retreat for soldiers returning from combat operations. At these safe retreats, soldiers would receive personal hygiene products, clothes, meals, medical care and much more. Keeping with the same idea, Pass It Along and Community Hope, received donations of food, clothing and personal care products and were able to pass them on to homeless veterans.