For twenty-two years the Healthy Cities Health Fair and Veterans’ Stand Down has been serving the Fort Wayne community. Military veterans, as well as other individuals who are uninsured and/or underinsured in our community, have the opportunity to receive free, confidential health services. For many, this will be the only time in a given year that they will see a health care professional. For some, these services lead to life-saving diagnosis. Diabetes, cancer, HIV, and STDs are just a few of the diseases that have identified at the health fair. They would have gone unnoticed and untreated. Other services such as flu shots, cholesterol checks, and hair cuts are available for those who attend the one day event. Winter coats are also distributed to those in need.
Veterans hold a special place in the hearts of the community. Men and women who have committed their lives to protect the freedoms of our country often struggle to return to civilian life. Lack of income due to limited education and non-transferrable skills, combat-related mental and physical disabilities, and substance abuse problems lead them to homelessness. It is estimated that over 700,000 United States military veterans will be homeless sometime during the year. On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans will find a spot in a dark alley, on a park bench, or on a cot in shelter. These American heroes deserve better than this. We must fight for them as they have fought for us. The Veterans’ Stand Down event provides the homeless veterans of Fort Wayne with essential supplies. With winter approaching, veterans receive warm coats, blankets, socks, and other items that will be needed to endure the cold, gray days ahead. Approximately one hundred homeless veterans in our community received the supplies during the Stand Down event.
I signed up to help set up and sort coats the day before the event. When I arrived at my scheduled time, most of the work had been done. A large group of volunteers had completed most of the set up and sorting earlier in the day. I helped unload cases of water, set up tables and chairs, and moved some boxes of clothing around in the distribution tent. My volunteer experience was short, informational, and educational. I met a man by the name of Dave. He has been involved with the Healthy Cities Health Fair and Veterans’ Stand Down for fourteen years. He, a veteran himself, has a passion and drive to improve the life of veterans that is inspiring. People like Dave make this event a success. People like Dave make the United States of America the greatest country in the world.
Once again, Impact 52 has introduced me to something new. A yearly event takes place that impacts those with a need in our community. On average, more than 700 individuals will take advantage of the health services, the clothing, and the free meal provided during the Healthy Cities Health Fair and Veterans’ Stand Down. It is an event that runs on care and collaboration. Over 35 health organizations come together to support and participate in this event. I encourage you to learn how you can get involved to help out military veterans in your community. They have sacrificed much for us. We must do what is right in return.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!