‘Stand Down’ event helps veterans in need

 

Veteran Howard Bryant points to a sign announcing the event Friday. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

Veteran Howard Bryant points to a sign announcing the event Friday. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

DOVER — For Liz Byers-Jiron, the 9th annual Delaware Veterans Stand Down event Friday was nothing short of incredible.

“It was a great day,” she said.

Gov. Jack Markell talks with veterans during the Delaware Veterans Stand Down event on Friday. (Arshon Howard)

Gov. Jack Markell talks with veterans during the Delaware Veterans Stand Down event on Friday. (Arshon Howard)

The event is designed to provide community and administration services to all veterans in the area, especially those who are homeless.

“The growth has been amazing,” said Ms. Byers-Jiron, director of the Delaware Veterans Stand Down. “When we first started there were 25 veterans. Last year we had over 810 and this year we had between 900 and 1,000 veterans come out.”

Veterans were provided transportation to the American Legion post where they were provided with a continental breakfast and a ceremony welcoming them.

They also had the opportunity to undergo health screenings, such as diabetic testing and blood pressure readings.

U.S. Air Force veteran Greta Spradley-Price said it’s her passion to help those in need.

“I was introduced to the event a couple of years ago and ever since then I’ve been volunteering my time to help any way that I can,” she said.

“It’s an excellent event. It’s for all veterans. It introduces them to different resources that they may have not known about.

“For me, knowing that I had a part in helping these veterans gives me great satisfaction,” Ms. Spradley-Price added.

Oscar Gonzalez, a veterans advocate who has been leading an effort to create a traumatic brain injury hospital for military veterans in Delaware, said the event is the perfect outreach for those in need.

“It helped me out a lot,” he said. “It was a major adjustment. Going from solider to civilian isn’t easy. It’s a very difficult transition.”

Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 88 during the event. The bill extends the veterans’ preference points in the state merit system. Currently, the preference is limited to veterans of the Armed Forces who served during war time.

“We appreciate all that you’ve done for this country,” the governor told the veterans. “Every single day when we wake up in Dover we are thinking about how we can continue to make life better for veterans in Delaware.”

House Bill 88 allows members of the Delaware National Guard or a reserve unit to receive the points if that member has put in at least 20 years.

“For those that served in Vietnam we know what kind of reception, unfortunately, they did or did not receive back then,” Gov. Markell said.

“We want to pay the kind of respect that service members are due. Although we can say thank you, the most important thank you is helping more veterans find jobs.”

Ms. Byers-Jiron said that was the highlight of the day.

“That was great,” Ms. Byers-Jiron said. “This event has been great. We have a great committee that helps put this together, as it’s just a great feeling to continue to help these veterans in need.”

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