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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Harbor Homes to host long-running event to help veterans

By TINA FORBES
Staff Writer

NASHUA - Featuring a "one-stop shop" of local resources for at-risk and homeless veterans, the ninth annual veteran Stand Down event is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at Harbor Homes.

Guest speakers include Gov. Maggie Hassan, Mayor Jim Donchess and Erik Johannessen, executive director of social work with Veterans Affairs, among others. ...

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NASHUA - Featuring a "one-stop shop" of local resources for at-risk and homeless veterans, the ninth annual veteran Stand Down event is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at Harbor Homes.

Guest speakers include Gov. Maggie Hassan, Mayor Jim Donchess and Erik Johannessen, executive director of social work with Veterans Affairs, among others.

The Stand Down event is meant to connect veterans with Veterans Affairs and other organizations and individuals to learn about the local resources available to help them.

The event highlights social services for homeless veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to necessary services including housing, employment and substance use disorder treatment.

Andrea Reed, program manager of the homeless veterans' reintegration program at Harbor Homes, said she expects to see more than 100 veterans at the event.

"Last year, we had 130 veterans - but if we're doing our job, we hope that it's a lower number this year," Reed said.

Breakfast and lunch will be served, and veterans are invited to take a variety of goods with them when they leave, including nonperishable food, backpacks, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, coats and boots.

Harbor Homes also will host a local barber, who will provide complimentary haircuts.

Last year, the event featured about 55 vendors handing out supplies and providing information to veterans. Hundreds of veterans collected supplies and information on health screenings, employment counseling, legal aid and housing options. Pennichuck Water Works volunteers also handed out hundreds of sleeping bags, bed mats, fleece and wool blankets to veterans, all of which came from government surplus.

Reed also thanked Harbor Homes volunteers and local businesses for lending a hand.

"Home Depot and Pennichuck Water Works have been huge supporters, and Wal-Mart on Amherst Street," she said. "I can't thank them enough - and all the volunteers who help us out."

The veteran Stand Down tradition has been going on since the Vietnam War era and provides a place for veterans to receive assistance and the enjoy the camaraderie of their peers, according to a press release from Harbor Homes. For information on Stand Down, or for transportation options the day of the event, call the homeless coordinator at 1-800-892-8384, ext. 3622.

More information on Harbor Homes is available online at harborhomes.org or by calling 882-3616.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph. com or @Telegraph_TinaF.