For more than a decade, the Homeless Alliance and the Department of Veterans Affairs have rallied local organizations to host the Sooner Stand Down. Low-income and homeless veterans used the annual gathering to fight their way out of poverty, with everything from housing to healthcare. 

“I can go get my appointments scheduled now, get me some new glasses, get some teeth back in my mouth, stuff like that,” commented U.S. Army Veteran Quintin Hardy.

Hundreds of former service members showed up for help that they typically would not feel comfortable asking for. Even their dogs could get a check-up.

VA organizers said the one-stop shop at the Sooner Stand Down turns what could be a few weeks of visiting different resources into a few hours.

“Normally going to any one of those agencies could take all day, or half the day,” said VA homeless program coordinator Cale Powers.

The Homeless Alliance counted 129 veterans living on the streets earlier this year. The goal is to get 40 of them housed between the Stand Down and the end of September.

The VA reports that beyond mental health and substance abuse challenges facing the former service members, evictions are a leading cause of homelessness.

“Financial assistance is quite difficult to find when you are behind in rent, when you are behind in your utilities,” Powers explained. “We have great community resources that are working to improve that, but the need is quite large.”

Hardy experienced homelessness for three weeks before getting help from the VA.

“I was in a tent in Tent City,” Hardy said, “and every time a storm comes, the tent would blow away and you lose everything you have.”

Now, though, Hardy is fighting back against his struggles, with a roof over his head.

He said, “I got a place to stay, and a little piece of job that I work, and bills are being paid and I’m back into society like I’m supposed to be.”

Hardy encourages other veterans who are wary of asking for help to head to the VA for a variety of resources you may not even know you need. To connect, click here.