Veterans' assistance event in its 20th year

By William Moore
MPR News

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans is holding a stand-down event for homeless veterans.

The two-day gathering, now in its 20th year, begins Wednesday at the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling.

The event is open to all veterans and offers job help, medical services, and legal assistance for homeless vets. The veterans will also be able to get medical attention, haircuts, and job assistance.

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"We want to give veterans the opportunity to identify what their barriers are and the tools needed to overcome those barriers," program director Nathaniel Saltz said.

Saltz estimates more than 4,000 veterans experience some homelessness every year.

The idea for the event comes from the military stand-down during the Vietnam War era, which allowed soldiers to regroup.

"We have a lot of resources that are there for the veteran's disposal and then it's going to be up to the veteran to do the work and use those resources in their own lives," Saltz said. "There's nobody that can make somebody else help themselves, but a lot of times it's a matter of being able to get with the right people that have the right answers and that's what we try to provide at stand-down."