MCCC stands up for veterans with ‘Stand Down’ event
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - As Memorial Day weekend kicks off, veteran memorials are on the books across the region to remember the lives of those who served the nation.
Mountain Comprehensive Care Center started the weekend a little early, hitting Archer Park Friday with an event for the veterans who are still here, reminding them they are not forgotten.
“It’s so important for us to get out and get to the veterans to make sure that they understand all the benefits that are there for them,” said Brian Nimmo, Medical Director for Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center. “And, really, when you look around and just see the level of support that’s in the community- that’s really there for them. So it’s a it’s a special day.”
The “Stand Down Veterans” event brought together medical, housing and other resources to connect veterans in need with the programs that are available to meet them where they are.
“It’s to get the veterans back into the community and for them to receive the resources they need,” said MCCC Homeless Veterans Program Outreach Coordinator Margaret Rice. “And it’s about giving back. ‘Cause they’ve done so much for us.”
The event, which MCCC started putting on six years ago, has been on pause since 2020 because of the pandemic. However, those involved say it was nice to return this year, helping to provide connection, community and a little celebration for the folks who fought for the place we call home.
“The veterans that come to these events, I have heard from them directly,” said Nimmo. “‘I was put in contact with someone that helped me with employment’ or ‘helped me with placement for housing. They helped me get enrolled for health care.’ And it literally changed their life.”
For some veterans, events like this are about more than lunch and light conversation.
“We don’t like to show our emotions. But, you know, when stuff like this happens it’s hard not to,” said veteran Ben Yeakley. “I went to stand down 20 years ago. Saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that stand down.”
Yeakley, who served in the Army from 1999 until 2004, is now the financial officer for the American Legion Post 283 in Martin. He said events like this are not only needed, but necessary.
“Whether you’re the homeless veteran receiving the assistance, or you’re the veteran who’s not homeless- who’s coming here to help out. No matter who you are, coming out and participating is a win-win situation,” he said. “You know, it’s saved countless lives. Mine being one of them. And I’m forever grateful for people like this and all those that help us.”
Others agreed with Yeakley’s sentiments, which is why those involved say it is so important to provide this type of environment for veterans. So, whether it is a free haircut, a chat over lunch, or connecting them to lifesaving resources, they hope to see more veterans take advantage of the events in the days to come and encourage them to reach out anytime.
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