50. Operation Stand Downs

I was asked by one of the VA Angels (The UT State Manager) for any insight on an Operation Stand Down. By the time I finished my reply it was almost a whole article. So feeling lazy today I decided to share excerpts of my reply.

Here are some key thoughts:

1. One entry point for all to prevent contraband as I mentioned in my previous postings on OSD.

2. Force the vets to the the social providers. Maybe a check list they must have with them to present for meals showing they went to some so they could eat. This could be called their “Meal Card” as we had those in the Army and is understandable to them. This keeps it from being a social visit to catch up on old times. Maybe there should be a top five Mandatory stations like a health check etc. This is tough because you almost need pre-trained volunteers to act like cruise directors to shuffle people where they need to go. I noticed most vets just milled around unsure what to do next after opening remarks.

3. Hand out vetpacks last? Meaning, the vets do not arrive for the freebies and leave almost immediately. I also noticed this cut down on some vets having their packs stolen by others. They did not use the term stolen at N-ville, they used the term “separated from their vet pack” sorry to say. About the white T-shirts, one Veteran remarked “Great now they can see where I slept last night”,meaning the dirt etc.

4. The ones that admit being unemployed or homeless etc. should be forced to the labor resources, and housing referrers mandatory. I found that someone has to give a little direction. Setting up 50 service agency tables by names only can be overwhelming. I did not know what they all were and maybe they could be set up in order of importance? Cut down on the clutter. Keep the bull crap schools out that are trying to get a vet a grant for a class that vets cannot or will not attend out. (Like one I saw in N-ville, Sham College (changed name to protect from lawsuits) was just a bunch of commissioned sales men .) They are just wasting time from what is important at the moment .

5. Actually, I might try to get a geographical area of where they are living or how they are living. This could be just someone wandering around and seeing a vet setting off to himself and saying “could I ask you something” such as I was doing. This might give some insight to what other services are needed. I actually drug one over to see a corporation table during OSD Nashville. Once you have the mule to the trough…..how are we going to make him drink?

6. Another thought: In a couple of OSD’s they have gate opening and closing times. I am not sure this is a good Idea. Some places have the gates open from 8 to 11. A homeless Veteran does not really live on a time schedule, doesn’t normally have a watch, does not have a set of directions, is on foot, and feels like hell after getting there and being told he cannot come in because he is late. I often wondered if that one that was late was the guy that might have gotten something out of the event.

7. I saw a man completely arrive under the influence. I am not sure what to do about them. Forcing them back out seems cruel. I asked a OSD director why he was not allowed in. He said we were not there for them. Not there for them? Supposedly the majority there were! The 70% statistic just kept going through my head that percentage of the Homeless Veterans were substance dependant and or mentally ill. Maybe a small area for them to lie down in until they could be evaluated?

8. The key here is getting the vets to the services or the services to the vets. As you have noted , getting these two groups to talk to each other can be difficult. Some of the Vets feel like they have talked until they are blue and have given up. Maybe higlighting someone with some hope and making a success out of somebody is a key. Maybe pass this email around amongst the Angels and other Providers. I invite a discussion on this as I noted some other Soldier Angels have been to these OSD. I look at things with an intense eye and feel at times I am too critical. At times I feel bad afterwards about what I have written. Unfortunately, it was what I have experienced thus far.

9. From what I observed the whole OSD thing is very tough. One could become a professional in setting these things up! I know there is a manual on this as I had a chance to view it online once. As with anything, the plan goes out the door with the first shot fired, so actually since it seemed at N-ville they were dealing with a mass of over 300 there was little crowd control. Control is the key though and can be achieved with someone giving direction.

Your Friend,


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2 Responses to “50. Operation Stand Downs”

  1. October 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Great new look.

    Also, wonderful insight…

    Most of all, keep posting…

  2. October 23, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    I loved the insight. I will definitely forward it on to my voluntary services chief, and take this with me to our Stand Down on November 2nd. Thank you!

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