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High Country Stand Down offers winter gear to veterans Oct. 31

Williams American Legion Cordova post is hosting the High Country Stand Down, which will be distributing cold weather gear and clothing to homeless and at-risk veterans.
Photo by Wendy Howell.

Williams American Legion Cordova post is hosting the High Country Stand Down, which will be distributing cold weather gear and clothing to homeless and at-risk veterans.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Veterans helping veterans, that’s the goal of the High Country Stand Down, which will be distributing cold weather gear and clothing to homeless and at-risk veterans.

“At-risk means they are on the verge of suicide or hurting themselves. They’re at-risk for starvation or at-risk for their living conditions in the winter time. It is the potential of them being harmed by the weather or whatever," said Roger Ely, vice commander of the American Legion for the Department of Arizona

Veterans will be provided with cold weather items like gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, socks and other gear. Items will be transported to Williams by military vehicles and set up at the American Legion Hall where boxes will then be set up on tables and veterans will be given the gear they need.

“This is support for our veterans by veterans,” Ely said. “It is veterans helping veterans. It’s not a community thing. It is being done by veterans organizations to support our own veterans. No veteran should be embarrassed to come out here and do this if they are qualified to receive these items.”

A mobile-veterans clinic will be on-hand to help any veteran with questions regarding benefits about health care or enrollment with the VA Northern Arizona Health Care System.

There will also be a distribution of hygiene kits for men and women provided by the Disabled Veterans National Foundation for northern Arizona veterans.

“That’s really the gist of this is to bring these guys in and ladies — to get them prepared for the winter time, because they’re living in the element or even if they’re living in some kind of housing, they still need the stuff,” Ely said.

Homeless and at-risk veterans in Williams?

While the Stand Down has become an annual event in Flagstaff, Ely said this is the first time it has been offered in Williams. He said it is difficult to know how big of a population there is within the veteran community that may be in need of these type of items.

“We have people come in and out of our Legion Hall all the time asking for different things, but is there a community here that I hear about?” he shrugged. “I’ve talked to the sheriff’s department, the police department and they say, ‘oh yeah, they’re out there, these homeless veterans.’ But they don’t want to be involved. They’re on their own and they survive the way that they survive. I wish I knew that there was a community out there because all of the things I’m involved in, that would be where I would reach out. I don’t know where they’re at.”

However, Ely said this event gives local veteran organizations the opportunity to reach veterans in nearby communities as well.

“We have the ability to reach out to Seligman, Chino Valley, Paulden and Ash Fork. This is a good chance for these people to come out and get this cold weather stuff because we need it here in the winter,” he said.

Stand Down details

The Stand Down takes place Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at American Legion Cordova Post 13, 425 W. Route 66 in Williams. The event is being provided by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration and is an annual event in Flagstaff. Proof of military service will need to be provided, however, the Stand Down will have access through the organization to find out if a person has served in the military. The Ladies Auxiliary is in charge of lunch, which will be provided to all veterans participating.

“This is from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. so that’s not a lot of time but it gives us an opportunity to try to help these people with the onset of winter here,” Ely said.

More information about the Stand Down is available from Ely at (928) 380-6027.

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