MOBILE, Ala. – "He told me his new boots felt like clouds on his feet and at least for one day, he felt like a human again."
This is the kind of feedback Kelly Estle, VA social work and Mobile Stand Committee co-chair, received from homeless veterans as she and other employees from the Mobile Community Based Outpatient Clinic did their part to help the VA eliminate homelessness among veterans during a stand down event on Nov. 18.
The event was held in the Springhill Recreation Center. Many community-based organizations were also present to assist homeless veterans with housing, legal and employment services.
Stand down officials estimate more than 300 veterans attended the event, but the prevailing feeling among the officials is many more attended this year’s event than in 2009. Final numbers are still being tallied by Housing First Inc., the sponsoring agency of the event.
Estle was impressed by the level of community and VA support.
"We received a lot of donations from the community this year," Estle said. "From individuals to organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, most of what we gave out (clothing, cold weather gear, food) came from them."
The completion of the Mobile area stand down marks the end of the stand down season for the VA Gulf Coast, but the battle to end veteran homelessness continues. For many VA social workers like Estle, it’s a daily process.
"The good feedback Ireceive from veterans after these events just makes me want to cry, but it makes it all worth it in the end," Estle said. "It’s the least Ican do, since they did so much for us."