Sooner Stand Down Serves Up Food, Support to Homeless Vets

Thursday, October 13th 2011, 6:37 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A two-day program for homeless veterans in Oklahoma City provides crucial services for at least half of those affected.

This is the ninth year for the Sooner Stand Down, which brings together several different social agencies in one location to provide for Oklahoma vets. 

"Sometimes it can be really hard to access those services, even just to make yourself go get those services," said Dan Straughan of the Homeless Alliance.  "For these two days, all those hoops, all those barriers go away."

Straughan said there is a perception that veterans have access to an abundance of benefits, but obtaining them is not easy. 

"While you may not qualify as a veteran for vision care services on a normal day, if you served and you come to the Stand Down you can get vision services," Straughan said.  "Same with dental and primary medical."

John Howard served in Desert Storm from '87-'91.  Howard never set out to  become homeless, but a series of misfortunes combined to put him on the streets.

"I didn't have any savings, I didn't have any family with money to fall back on," Howard said.  "When my hard times came y'know I was kinda left with nothin'." 

Howard has changed his situation dramatically with the help of programs like Sooner Stand Down, and  was volunteering on Tuesday to help other veterans get the services they need.

"If someone's willing to just put a little bit of effort into helping themselves there's a lot of programs and people out there who are willing to help you," Howard said.  "I really wanted to come here, it gives me a chance to kick in and give back a little bit."