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Salvation: A different kind of Army

In the military, the phrase “stand down” means to stop, cease action, back off, presumably while assessing a situation and considering the next move. In civilian life, a “stand down” is an event that allows needy veterans (or any eligible veteran) the opportunity to stop and gather needed information, and often material things, required to keep one’s footing on a steady path.

A veterans “stand down” is an event that provides employment potential, minor medical examinations, snacks and food, clothing, details on how to file claims with Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration and other government agencies, as well as information about veterans service organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and veterans ethnic groups. “Stand downs” are held in most major American cities, and at least twice a year in Las Vegas.

At one such recent event in October, I had a chance to speak with representatives of the Salvation Army and the Filipino Veterans Group. Both organizations have veterans outreach programs, and representatives were there to help in numerous ways.

Nick Lenderman is the veterans service coordinator for the Salvation Army.

“We provide transitional housing for veterans and have about 75 veterans with us on any given night,” he said. “We also have substance abuse assistance, supportive services for veterans families, case management, rental assistance and utility assistance.”

The Supportive Services for Veterans Families has a goal of obtaining and maintaining stable housing for low-income veterans and their families. The service has financial support from different community agencies, including the VA, which recently awarded the agency a grant.

In addition to the services noted above, the organization provides life skills training, budgeting, credit repair and coping skills. Although not all employees or volunteers who administer the program are veterans, it strives to use peer mentors. But the emphasis is on a strength-based approach to care, whether mentors are veterans or not.

Lenderman’s exhibit at the stand down handed out literature that further explained that the Salvation Army has an adult rehabilitation program that provides for the treatment of substance abuse, chemical addictions, mental health and compulsive gambling for homeless veterans who are struggling with those issues. It’s a 24-hour daily live-in program that can lead to a new life for those who successfully complete the detailed plan.

Employment for veterans is another goal. Lenderman said that with the holidays approaching, the Salvation Army will have seasonal openings for drivers and bell ringers. When it comes to occasional permanent positions at the agency, “We hire veterans whenever possible,” he said.

In addition, the group works with other firms who often call upon the Salvation Army to provide candidates for outside employment.

For general information, people can call 702-701-5374. For assistance with substance abuse issues, the number is 702-399-2769.

While at the stand down, I had a chance to briefly speak with representatives of a new organization, the Filipino Veterans Group, which serves Filipino-American veterans of the U.S. military. Although there are other Filipino veterans groups, Jim Castillo said perceived differences led to this new one. Castillo is a coordinator and board member, and a Marine veteran. One of the services he said the group provides, which makes it stand out, is income tax preparation.

Member Armando Cortez, a Navy veteran, said that the group offers free income tax preparation. Members can call 702-214-2155 to access that service. Others can call that number to obtain membership information.

“We are always looking for new members,” Vice President Ray Lopez said.

Journalist and author Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He is the managing editor of Nevada’s Veteran Reporter newspaper and the host of the “Veterans Reporter Radio Show” on KLAV 1230 AM.

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