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Several UNT students, including members of Omega Delta Sigma (ODS), the national co-ed veteran and military fraternity, volunteered at the Denton County Homeless Veterans Stand Down and Resource Fair on October 25.
To veterans, stand downs were usually two or three-day “time-out” periods when soldiers came off the battlefield and into a safe place. The same stand down experience veterans had in Vietnam was recreated across the country for veterans who needed to come in from the trenches of the homeless battlefield.
Veterans were able to obtain winter clothing, socks, boots, sleeping bags, toiletries, haircuts and information about benefits, housing and medical/mental health care. Outside the Civic Center, in Quakertown Park, veterans of any income level were encouraged to bring a blanket or folding chair and enjoy music and free food/soft drinks.
UNT volunteers gave one-on-one assistance to homeless veterans as they made their way through the various stations based on their individual concerns. The volunteers walked along with the veterans carrying their seabags and helping them understand the stations and communicate with the organizations that were setup there.
“Each of the volunteers was deeply touched and honored to assist the homeless veterans in this way,” said Aaron Evans, Gunnery Sergeant (ret.), member of ODS and the Student Veterans Association and a graduate student in rehabilitation counseling. “This was something I didn’t expect. I was so focused on meeting the needs of the homeless veterans that I didn’t realize it would meet our needs (veteran volunteers) in the process. The process of transitioning back to civilian life is something we plod through daily, especially in college. Giving back in this event gave us a chance to normalize our own experiences and make a little more progress in our transitions.”
For more information on UNT Student Veteran Services, visit http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/student-veteran-services