Two-day event aids homeless and at-risk veterans

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A coalition of local organizations and businesses is working to ensure that the fourth annual North Florida Homeless Veterans Stand Down will make a difference in the lives of homeless veterans.

The event — held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the North Florida Fairgrounds, located on Paul Russell Road — will offer homeless veterans and their families free meals and an array of services, such as wellness screenings, eye exams, counseling, haircuts, issuance of ID cards and educational and employment assistance.

Stand Down, a grassroots, community-based initiative led by the Florida Veterans Foundation, attempts to address challenges facing many homeless veterans, including job layoffs, affordable housing shortage, lack of health care and substance abuse.

“These hardships, often compounded by a loss of family and social support networks, make the issue of homelessness a difficult social challenge,” said Donna Barron, the organization’s director, in a prepared statement.

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