Homeless Veterans Around Metro Get Help As Part Of 'Sooner Stand Down'
OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds lined up at Oklahoma City's homeless alliance shelter Thursday. All of them were veterans and in need of a helping hand.
It's a part of the annual “Sooner Stand Down”, where veterans can get new clothes, a medical and dental check-up and a haircut. There were also representative from the IRS to help with taxes and benefits. Many homeless veterans hadn't seen a barber, much less a doctor, in more than a year.
“I came here for the dental care, the eye care and find out what benefits I have and to socialize with other veterans,” said Aaron Smith. Smith said he served three years in the Army.
Oklahoma City rates fairly well compared to the nation's big cities. On any given night, 12 percent of the city's 1300 homeless are veterans, according to the Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dan Straughn. He said they see around 20 veterans a day, usually in the Housing and Urban Development offices that offer programs for veterans. Thursday, he estimated the total number in the hundreds.
“I love it, I love it. I try not to talk too much just listen,” barber Bruce Waight said while trimming the hair and mustache of an older veteran. Waight volunteers at least once a month at the center.
“Some people may be looking at this from the outside and be thinking we're doing a favor for these veterans, that's not the case. They're doing a favor for us by letting us give back.” Straughn said.