Bay Pines Homeless Stand Down Event Helps Veterans Get Back on Their Feet - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Bay Pines Homeless Stand Down Event Helps Veterans Get Back on Their Feet

April 26, 2018


BAY PINES, FL – The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System hosted the annual Stand Down event for Homeless Veterans on Saturday, April 14.

The event featured a wide range of resources, programs, and services available for homeless Veterans and for those at risk of becoming homeless.

This year, unique opportunities were made available to assist with helping Veterans overcome many of the obstacles that often get in the way of getting them back on their feet.

One of the many important programs available to offer assistance to Veterans in attendance was the Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (DRRTP).

“We are setup to help Veterans rebuild their lives through employment and to regain independent housing,” said Dr. Bruce Houtler, DRRTP Program Manager, Bay Pines VAHCS. “The domiciliary itself is a 49-bed return to work program for both male and female Veterans who may have some kind of thing in their lives that they could use some help with moving forward, and so we are here to help them with that.”

Another important resource made available to Veterans during the event was the ability to discuss employment re-entry options with staff.

“Here at Bay Pines we have Employment Re-entry Services. It is an umbrella of services,” said Carol Builes, ERS Program Manager, Bay Pines VAHCS.

“One of [programs] is called the transitional work program, which we refer to as work therapy. The Veteran will go through a transitional period and will be placed in one of the facility’s services, like housekeeping or engineering service, to help them transition back to work in the community.”

In addition, the Veterans Justice Outreach Program hosted a Stand Down Court for those wishing to speak with legal experts about resolving and addressing outstanding legal issues.

“[The Stand Down Court] is an event we put together for some of the Veterans who have come in contact with law enforcement over the years,” Said Patrick Diggs, Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator, Bay Pines VAHCS.

Diggs explained that Veterans who have accrued fines and legal fees can engage the court, and in some cases, they are relieved of the financial obligations in exchange for nonmonetary punishments like community service.

“One of the cases that we’ve had already is a Veteran with $68,000 in court costs and fines that the court was able to waive and dismiss. That may be the record here,” he said.

A record breaking 153 Veterans with a total of 749 cases were seen by the court. Approximately $434,000 in outstanding debt and legal fees were waived by the judge. 

“I came here today and they knocked down $17,000 in fines and court costs. I got my life back now,” said U.S. Army Veteran John Townsend after his time in front of the judge.

“They eliminated a big fine that I had for over $68,000, and now I will be able to buy a house and my credit will be much better. I got that big weight off my back…and I’m blessed,” said U.S. Army Veteran Rigoberto Santos.

To learn more about homeless services offered to Veterans at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, please visit

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, Volunteers, and other stakeholders. For questions about Bay Visions News Brief or to share a story, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at   

About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing nearly 4,300 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is one of the largest VA health care systems 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, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at