The city of Jacksonville’s Military Affairs and Veterans Department held its 18th Homeless Veterans Stand Down event this weekend. It’s a two-day event that began Friday with a career fair at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. It’s a “Day of Dignity.”
“We are giving them opportunities to help themselves and that means so much to them because these people are warriors and they have that mentality,” said Harrison Conyers, Military Affairs and Veterans Department supervisor.
Conyers said Saturday focused on mental health care by bringing resources and organizations together. Northeast Florida women’s veterans, Housing Authority and Vet Center were there to lend a hand.
“When I see the homeless guys now for the last 30 years, sometimes I see me because I was out there,” said veteran Gary Davis. Davis said these events make all the difference for veterans like himself. “It means a lot to me to have somebody in place that can help a veteran so we shouldn’t leave a man behind as we say in the Army,” said Davis. According to Conyers, there are about 150,000 veterans in Jacksonville and several hundred of them are facing homelessness. That’s why the Veterans Stand Down event is here to help.
Before a veteran can have access to free clothing and free food, they must check every single social service vendor, which includes health care and mental health services.
“We stand on the freedoms that they’ve protected for us and they built for us,” said Conyers. “We’re a smaller department within the city of Jacksonville and we rely on a lot of partners who help us. Agencies can come we take canned food, we take food clothing donations and financial donations.”