Police departments, veterans groups provide assistance to homeless veterans

Jasmine Schillinger

The second annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down occurred July 29 at Brookside Park in Ames.

Music was playing and people were grilling as volunteers helped provide homeless veterans with food, haircuts, clothes and health screenings. The event provided a safe environment for those in need to receive these services.

“We’re really hopeful that what we’re doing here today is connecting people with the resources they need,” said Jathan Chicoine, coordinator of the ISU Veterans Services. “A lot of the time for some people, this is just a transitional issue.”

Luke Jensen, office coordinator of Story County’s department of veterans affairs, said he would like to see continuous support of homeless veterans and for them to know where to get resources.

ISU Public Safety, Ames Police Department and ISU Student Veterans of America all pitched in to help spread the word about the event by handing out water bottles with flyers about the event.

“It’s hard to reach out to that specific demographic,” said Nick Grossman, officer with the ISU Police Department. “We also posted the same flyers in places we know the homeless have congregated in the past and places where they provide services to those at risk.”

Even though they believe they did a good job of spreading the word, not everything comes down to numbers, Chicoine said.

“Our intent is to grow the event each year, but it’s not so much about measuring the numbers,” Chicoine said. “It’s about engaging the community.”

They’re hoping the event will help increase awareness and encourage more involvement within the larger Ames community.

“It’s important to get the larger community involved,” Chicoine said. “Everybody can play a part to help spread the word. We really need that.”

Next year, they plan to ask the community just to come and check it out and physically be a part of it. It’s the best way to get involved, Chicoine said.

Matt Barr, student volunteer and member of ISU Veterans of America, said these events are very beneficial to those in need.

“I have actually been in a similar situation myself,” Barr said. “All it takes is for someone to say, ‘Hey, these resources are here. All you need to do is present yourself and ask for them.’”

Barr is involved with a handful of veterans clubs and support groups and also works with Chicoine through work-study at the Iowa State Veterans Center.

“Just having an opportunity like this can be a great chance for people in dire situations to get the help they need,” Barr said.