Story by WVUA 23’s Maria Blough.

Veterans and Tuscaloosa residents came together to take a stand against homelessness among vets.

Stand Down for Homeless Vets is an annual event held by every Veteran’s Affairs center across the U.S.

Tuscaloosa’s VA handed out winter clothes to veterans at Beulah Baptist Church.

“I think this is not a first step, but sometimes it is just something like this, helps veterans be more aware of what’s out there for them,” said John Merkle, Director of Tuscaloosa’s VA Medical Center. “We have all the community services at one location for them to see everything available for them.”

Merkle said the VA is open 24/7 to provide veterans with needed resources. They also can connect homeless vets with a roof over their head.

The stand down for homeless veterans program is modeled after the stand down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for troops returning home from combat.

Its modern incarnation is meant to make sure no veteran is left behind.

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