944th Fighter Wing Airmen Serve Those Who Served
By Staff Sgt. Joshua Nason, 944th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 23, 2013
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Members of the 944th Fighter Wing volunteered their time to help homeless veterans at the 12th annual Arizona StandDown.
The Arizona StandDown, held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds Veteran's Coliseum, is a 3 day event aimed at getting homeless veterans in the valley off of the streets and into a permanent living situation. The event, organized by the Valley of the Sun United Way along with help from various organizations in the valley, is the largest StandDown held in the United States with over 1500 homeless veterans participating.
Volunteers from the 944th Fighter Wing were tasked with ushering the homeless veterans, at a one to one ratio, through the coliseum to receive assistance from whomever the veteran felt could help their situation. Some veterans needed minimal assistance, while others were seeking assistance for a multitude of issues.
944th member, Senior Airman Melinda Charlton, 944th Force Support Squadron, volunteered her time for the event and was impressed by the magnitude of the event. "The training was very sufficient for all of the volunteers. I was surprised by the amount of resources and things that the veterans could take advantage of. The offerings were fantastic," she said.
Homeless veterans were able to get ID's from the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division, remedy criminal charges and fines with local, county, and state courts, receive assistance in finding permanent shelter, get haircuts and grooming kits, as well as receive basic medical care.
Brittany Wright, a dental hygienist volunteering at the AZ StandDown stated "Primarily what we will be doing is providing oral cancer screenings, as well as giving the veterans information on how to receive free dental care."
The loyal canine and feline companions of the homeless veterans were not left out. Pets also received care at the event, as well as boarding while the veteran was receiving services in the coliseum.
Julie Carlson, a certified veterinarian technician volunteering at the AZ StandDown said "We anticipate 175 to 200 animals to arrive with the veterans. We will be giving vaccinations, grooming, performing basic health examinations, as well as providing food that the veterans will be able to take with them."
In addition to volunteering at the StandDown, prior to the actual event, 944th members collected over 150 pairs of gently used blue jeans to be donated to the homeless veterans.
"The goal of the event is that attendees at this year's AZ StandDown will find themselves in safe living situations by the time next year's event comes around," commented StandDown volunteer Maj. Elizabeth Magnusson, 944th Fighter Wing staff. "Regardless, the Airmen of the 944th Fighter Wing will be volunteering their time again next year to ensure that the veterans who came before us are taken care of."