Time to help those who served

November 19, 2012
Jim Kerr of Washington receives a free flu shot Saturday from Melinda Bennett, a pharmacist for Giant Eagle. - Linda Metz / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Only 15 area veterans attended the first Homeless Veterans Stand Down Saturday but coordinators say it was such a big success that it will become an annual event.

“Yes, it was a success,” said Dean Garland, president and CEO of Washington City Mission, which hosted the event. “This was the first here in Washington and at the Mission. We didn’t know what to expect.”

The doors at the Mission were open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to stop in and receive free help on all levels, ranging from legal issues to flu shots to information on veteran’s benefits.

The term “stand down” is a military term, referring to a time of rest. The purpose of the event was help ease the veterans who attended of any eminent worries.

“Some of the veterans didn’t realize the services that were available to them,” said Shirley Fierro, director for advancement at the mission.

Jim Kerr, who lives in Jollick Manor in Washington, was one of the veterans who found help at the event.

Among other things, Kerr, a Vietnam War veteran who served from 1968 to 1969, received a free flu shot from Melinda Bennett, a Giant Eagle pharmacist and volunteer for WeCare Street Outreach.

“Truly, the turnout was better than what we expected,” said Dr. Monica Speicher, another WeCare volunteer.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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