On September 29, 2016, the WVU Law Clinics provided legal services to homeless and unemployed veterans at the 2016 Veterans Stand Down. Stand Downs are typically one- to three-day events providing supplies and services to homeless Veterans, such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and VA Social Security benefits counseling. Veterans can also receive referrals to other assistance such as health care, housing solutions, employment, substance use treatment and mental health counseling. They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VA Medical Centers, other government agencies and community-based homeless service providers. This year’s Stand Down, which was sponsored by the Clarksburg VA Medical Center, was held at the Morgantown National Guard Armory.
Students from the Veterans Advocacy, General Practice, Child and Family Advocacy and WV Innocence Project gathered at the Armory to provide legal outreach services to local homeless veterans throughout the Stand Down. “I am proud that so many WVU Law clinical students—many of whom are not enrolled in the Veterans Advocacy Clinic—volunteered at the Stand Down and came out to provide support and services to our veteran neighbors most in need,” said Associate Professor Jennifer Oliva, an Army veteran who Directs the Veterans Advocacy Clinic. In the military, a “Stand Down” afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Today’s “Stand Downs” afford the same opportunity to our homeless veterans – an often invisible population exceeding 100,000 former servicemembers.