VA 'Stand Down' event brings help to homeless veterans in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- They've sacrificed so much for our country, yet so many veterans face challenges like unemployment and homelessness. To help combat that, the Greater Los Angeles Veteran's Administration held an event, which for many, is the first step in turning their lives around.

Heidi Marston is with the VA Greater Los Angeles and explains what "Stand Down" is all about.

"Our goal is to bring services to one place, so our veterans who are experiencing homelessness have a place to get everything from food, clothing and medical services and housing."

Organizers say with the homeless population among the veteran community numbering in the thousands, the services offered here will hopefully get a few hundred more off the streets.

Montell Dupree is a Vietnam vet, who was recently living in a vacant lot in Koreatown. Not anymore. "The city attorney showed up, took my furniture that I had on the lot. Put it in storage, introduced me to Step up on Second and got me housing," Dupree said.

He explains that now, he's gotten Section 8 housing, thanks to the VA program.

Organizers call this event "Stand Down," which in military terms means to leave the battlefield and go to a safe area to recover and rest.

Here, it's a safe place for vets to ask for help and get it. Sheila Sing is one of them, and she was able to secure housing.

"It was wonderful, it meant the whole world to me because I don't have anybody here in California. So, it meant the world to me," Sing said.

Marston says the event is a good reminder that so many people are just recently homeless. "I think putting that into perspective that a lot of us are just one paycheck away from being in the same situation. So how can we make sure we're providing the services they need so people don't get homeless in the first place?" she said.

Stand Down was a collaboration between the VA and many community partners including government agencies, volunteers, non-profits, businesses, social service providers, as well as faith-based organizations.

Several vets, who got help with housing, health and other services, said their new mission was to spread the word, and make sure other vets get the same help they received today.

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