Tampa Bay Community Comes Together to Help Homeless Veterans - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Tampa Bay Community Comes Together to Help Homeless Veterans

May 12, 2017

BAY PINES, FL – More than 500 Veterans poured into the Bay Pines annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center last month.

The event featured medical screenings, free meals, toiletries, haircuts, foot washing, clothing items, benefits and housing information, employment resources, bike drawings and more.

“Today we’re hosting our 2017 Stand Down for Homeless Veteran,” said Blossom Kapper, LCSW, Grant and Per Diem Liaison, and Stand Down event coordinator.

“We have many exhibitors out here…over 80 exhibitors here to help serve our Veterans…offering resources with employment, legal resources, housing resources, and this is helping our Veterans not only find resources but reduce their barriers to their homelessness,” she said.

A unique part of the event was the Stand Down court. Conducted through a partnership between Bay Pines, the 6th Judicial Circuit Court, and other county and state partners, the court provided an opportunity for Veterans to speak with law experts to address outstanding legal issues. During the course of the day and during a contingency court held on April 19, the Stand Down Court reduced or dismissed more than $340,000 in fines and legal fees for about 180 Veterans.

“I’m a little in shock and awe,” said James Peterson, a U.S. Navy Veteran who participated in the court. “They have reduced numerous legal fines to zero. They have reduced a pending felony to a misdemeanor…and they have taken off an alcohol monitor bracelet, which opens the door to get my driver’s license back, which I’m going to go see the DMV right here on campus right now,” he continued.

“So, I’m having a good day…I’m very thankful for the VA and this program,” he said.

According to Bay Pines leaders, Stand Down events, and other outreach efforts targeted to homeless Veterans and those at risk, allow VA to partner with local communities to get Veterans the help that they need.

In 2016 alone, Bay Pines served nearly 5,500 homeless Veterans or those at risk for homelessness due to outreach programs, services and collaborative activities with partners inside and outside the federal government.

Nationally, more than 360,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed or prevented from falling into homelessness due to systematic efforts between VA and community partners.

To learn more about the homeless services available to Veterans, please visit www.baypines.va.gov/services/homeless.

About Bay Visions News Brief

Bay Visions News Brief is a video news product line developed by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Office of Public Affairs and Medical Media Services. The news videos complement Bay Visions - a quarterly magazine distributed to Veterans, family members, VA employees and Volunteers, members of the general public and other stakeholders.

For questions about Bay Visions News Brief or to share a story, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at vhabaypublicaffairs@va.gov.  

About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit www.baypines.va.gov, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vabaypines, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vabaypines.