Veterans get needed help in annual event

Several organizations set up shop outside of the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans.
Several organizations set up shop outside of the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Inside a big tent on Fairfield Ave. Friday, Community organizations and hundreds of veterans in our area gathered with the goal of finding a better life.

“They can’t get jobs. They’re on the streets. Nobody wants them in their home. That’s not right,” ‘Fort Wayne Stand Down’ Committee Chair said David Wilson said.

“We’re trying to reach out and do what we can to end that.”

To ‘stand down’ is a chance for soldiers to get off the front lines and adjust back to society. The event held at the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans Friday did just that.

People from Brightpoint wait to help veterans at the annual Fort Wayne Stand Down.
People from Brightpoint wait to help veterans at the annual Fort Wayne Stand Down.

“You have men and women who signed a blank check to the United States government, to everyone in this nation, that said ‘I will put my life on the line and I will go out there to represent and protect you.'”

People from several local organizations spent the day hoping to pay back some of that so-called check.

Homeless and at-risk veterans got introduced to and help for jobs, housing, clothing, medical care and much more.

It’s not easy for many soldiers to go from the battlefield to a normal life.

“For a few years, I went back to school.  It was really hard fitting back in. It took awhile. Situations like this, seeing people homeless and hungry. Vets are finally getting taken care of like they should be. It’s been a long time coming,” said Nate Sappington, who served in Korea.

Several organizations set up shop outside of the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans.
Several organizations set up shop outside of the Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans.

While it was a one day event, veterans can get help year-round from these groups, who hope to find every vet a better life.

“We’re right on the edge of ending homelessness of veterans in Fort Wayne and we’d really like to say we’ve done that,” Wilson added.

The vets also see a chance to find equal treatment, no matter when they served.

“It shows you that people do care. When Vietnam veterans came home, they called us ‘baby killers’. It was different than they way they treat vets now coming home from war. Since I’ve been here, it’s all equal,” said Vietnam Veteran Randy Lundy.

For information to help veterans visit the Services for Homeless Veterans website.