Attendance up at event for homeless veterans

Veterans advocates say the need for homelessness prevention services is up sharply this year.

The number of veterans attending this year's StandDown event at Fort Snelling is up by about 300 over last year's attendance.

Organizers from the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, which put together the event, say social service providers helped more than 700 homeless or at-risk veterans with a variety of issues at the two-day event.

Organizer Nathaniel Saltz said having providers coordinate services helps veterans who cannot afford transportation.

"It's a way for veterans to do one-stop shopping for all the service needs that they have," Saltz said. "Whatever barriers that they have to keep them from being homeless can be addressed all in one spot by the various service providers here so they don't have go running around town from office to office to talk to this person over there or find this person -- it's all in one spot."

Hundreds of volunteers gave out meals, clothing, legal advice, housing, health care and other services at Fort Snelling. Similar events are also planned for Mankato, Duluth, St. Cloud, International Falls, Bemidji and Rochester.