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September 13. 2013 8:44PM

Time to Stand Down, help vets

NASHUA — In an effort to combat homelessness among New Hampshire veterans, a community event has been planned to help hundreds of veterans struggling to make ends meet.

Clothing, food, haircuts, employment counseling, legal advice, personal care items, blankets and boots will be provided to veterans in need during Harbor Homes' annual Stand Down event.

Harbor Homes, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, is hosting the sixth annual Stand Down for homeless veterans from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at 45 High St. in Nashua.

Its mission is to provide veterans with relief from the dangers, trauma and isolation of homelessness, supply them with basic necessities and raise community awareness about homelessness, according to a release.

It is also designed to bring together service providers, volunteers and professionals to create short-term and long-term solutions to poverty, homelessness and unemployment, said organizers.

"In 2011, there were over 67,000 homeless veterans around the country," says the release. More than 600 of those homeless veterans live in New Hampshire, and about 7,000 low-income veteran households in the Granite State are at risk of homelessness, according to Harbor Homes' website.

Tax services will be on hand, along with potential employers who are eager to talk to veterans about possible work opportunities or training programs. Food, vouchers, coupons and various products that will benefit veterans will be donated and available at the event.

"We encourage employers that are hiring to come and talk to our educated and qualified veterans about positions available in their companies," says a release issued by Jennifer Ceballos of Harbor Homes.

Combating homelessness is a joint effort that takes an entire community willing to assist by volunteering vital services and providing basic necessities, according to the statement. About 40 vendors participated in last year's Stand Down event.

Harbor Homes was previously awarded a $1 million grant to combat homelessness among state veterans. The funding is being used to help prevent or end homelessness among 300 low-income veteran households, and help New Hampshire achieve its goal to be the first state in the country to effectively end veteran homelessness.

Matthew Milbourn, a veteran and employee at Harbor Homes, described the upcoming Stand Down as "the largest gathering of resources and volunteers" in the state with one mission — to end veteran homelessness.

"It provides a positive impact on the community as it raises awareness for a very serious issue and provides otherwise non-existent access to support services for local veterans and their families," Milbourn said in a statement.

Harbor Homes is a local nonprofit group founded 30 years ago with the mission to create and provide quality residential and supportive services for individuals and their families struggling with mental illness or homelessness.

khoughton@newstote.com


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