Homeless veterans receive free resources and hope at the 16th Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down
PANAMA CITY, FL – Organizations from across the community pulled together to help the area’s homeless veterans and veterans in need. On Friday, Sept. 15, CareerSource Gulf Coast led the effort with over 40 local organizations, hosting the 16th Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down.
54 veterans convened at the Student Union at Gulf Coast State College and were connected with a broad range of critical services and resources from numerous community agencies all in one place.
In addition to haircuts, breakfast and lunch, services included information about employment and education; housing referrals; medical, dental, vision, and mental health care; social service assistance; and VA benefits. Event participants also received non-perishable food, toiletries, clothing, shoes, boots, backpacks, and sleeping bags. Bayway Transit provided veterans with free bus transportation.
Veterans enjoyed the camaraderie of volunteer airmen from Tyndall Air Force Base and sailors from Naval Support Activity Panama City, who accompanied each veteran throughout the venue as they visited each organization and service provider.
“The goal of the event is to equip area homeless veterans with the resources needed to rebuild their lives, all under one roof,” CareerSource Gulf Coast Executive Director, Kim Bodine said. “It can be difficult to ask for help, but veterans were welcomed to a safe and supportive environment and treated with the dignity and respect each deserved.”
"Gulf Coast State College is proud to have hosted this impactful event on our campus again this year,” said Gulf Coast President Glen McDonald. “We extend our heartfelt support to our local homeless veterans in need. In partnership with CareerSource and other agencies involved with the Homeless Veterans Stand Down, we stand strong in our commitment to those who have served our nation."
“The many organizations and volunteers who came together to make this Stand Down possible are unified on the premise that no veteran should be homeless,” said CareerSource Gulf Coast’s Director of Workforce Services, Angela McLane. “We wish to serve veterans, just as they have served this country.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Point-in-Time (PIT) Count estimates that on a single night in January 2022, roughly 33,129 veterans were experiencing homelessness. Florida has an estimated 2,504 homeless veterans; however, progress is being made. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness in Florida declined by 68 percent since 2010.
The local Stand Down event 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. As 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.
Veterans who were not able to attend the event are urged to contact the CareerSource Gulf Coast Veteran Services Team to be connected to participating organizations and resources. Call (850) 872-4340 or visit CareerSourceGC.com for more information.
CareerSource Gulf Coast is the state-designated workforce development authority in Bay, Gulf, and Franklin Counties. Workforce development and job placement services are provided to job seekers and employers free of charge.
Organizations, sponsors, and volunteers include:
CareerSource Gulf Coast
40 & 8 Voiture 472
A Hand Up International Inc. GOM
American Legion Post 392 Aux / Paul W. Airy
American Red Cross
AmVets Post 47
Bay County Vet Center
Bay County Veteran Service Office
Chemical Addictions Recovery Effort, Inc. (CARE)
Disabled American Veterans
Disability Resource Center Inc.
Doorways of Northwest Florida
Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital
Emerald Coast VFW Post 10555
Family Service Agency
Florida Department of Children and Families
Florida Department of Health Bay County
Florida Veteran Support Line - United Way of West Florida
Gulf Coast State College
Healthy Start Coalition, Inc. of Bay, Franklin and Gulf Counties
Little Caesars Pizza of Lynn Haven
Naval Support Activity - Panama City
Northwest Florida Veterans Task Force
NWF Health Network
One Step At A Time Inc.
Panama City Housing Authority
Panama City Rescue Mission
PanCare of Florida, Inc.
Recovery Bay Center
Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program
The Office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Tudor's Biscuit World
Tyndall Air Force Base
Tyndall Spouses Club
VFW Auxiliary to Post 8205
VFW Post 8205
VFW Post 2185
Xi Theta Zeta