Women’s Stand Down helps 60 veterans in need

February 25th, 2017
Army veteran Barbara Heard at the Women's Stand Down on February 23.

The Stand Down this past week was for female veterans only, and 60 from across the metro area took advantage of the resources related to basic needs, employment, healthcare and more.

“It’s good to have a Stand Down just for women because it’s geared specifically to our needs,” said Barbara Heard, who attended. “It’s also comforting to be around other female veterans because we understand each other.”

Barbara, 60, spent 28 years in the Army as an MP (Military Police). She served in Iraq during Desert Storm and provided support during Operation Enduring Freedom. As a result of her service, Barbara is suffering a number of medical and mental health issues. She is receiving treatment at the Detroit VA.

“Unfortunately, I am now 60% disabled,” Barbara said. “Still, if I had to do it all over again, I would still serve because it was important to my country.”

Barbara holds the coat she received made by The Empowerment Plan. With her are Mac Elabed and Claudia Edmonson of Southwest Solutions.

Barbara holds the coat she received made by The Empowerment Plan. With her are Mac Elabed and Claudia Edmonson of Southwest Solutions.

Like the other veterans at the Stand Down, Barbara gathered information at the resource stations run by service providers and community partners. The event was organized by Southwest Solutions’ Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) and sponsored by the Department of Labor. The Stand Down took place at our Piquette Square for Veterans. Others participating included the VA and the VA Hospital, the Red Cross, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), Comcast, Southwest Housing Solutions, and our Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

Through a donation from the Detroit Lions, every veteran who attended received a special coat made by The Empowerment Plan that converts to a sleeping bag.

“It was helpful to come to the Stand Down,” Barbara said. “It’s been a tough road for me, but I feel optimistic about where I’m going. I’m almost done with my degree in Early Childhood Education from Wayne State and I hope that I’ll soon be helping children learn.”

Special thanks to the HVRP staff of Claudia Edmonson, Ieisha Knight, Cynthia Hunter, Robert Thompson and Emanuel Hernandez for organizing the Stand Down. Our HVRP is supervised by Mac Elabed.

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