|Download PDF of this full issue: v32n2.pdf (11.5 MB)|
2002 Homeless StandDown
By Bill Branson
We made it again!
Thanks to Mike Woloshin, Richard Stacewicz, Barry Romo, Janet
and Zoe Curry, Dave and Pat Kettenhofen and John Poole for really
sweating it out in the kitchen. Ray Parrish also helped out as
a counselor. Annie Luginbill was with us in spirit from Jamaica;
she left written instructions for her replacement in the storage
room. We expect a cage match between her and Betsy next year to
see who inherits the title "Storeroom Annie."
Thanks to some dedicated VA workers, various bullshit security
restrictions were overcome, so the vets were able to sleep overnight.
The VVA, VietNow and the VFW really turned out again to cook
some great meals. The doors next to the kitchen had been sealed
shut, so we had very little ventilation. The weather was not too
bad, but the fish fry was so blast-furnace hot that the oil almost
exploded when the first fish was dropped in. It did not help that
the cooks were drunk. New cooks were substituted. It was then
that we realized that the armory had no fire extinguishers! We
all stank like fish oil for hours.
The homeless guests really dug it, though. People ate seconds
and thirds. I'll have to get back to you with a head count, but
it looked like a smaller number of vets.
We were all old folks, except for Janet and Zoe. We really
need to make an effort to interest some young whippersnappers
in sharing the workload. Please leave one or two days off for
the November StandDown. It's never too soon to start recruiting!
Bill Branson is a member of
VVAW's Chicago chapter and a VVAW national staff member.
Dear Bill (and the gang),
This year at StandDown we registered over 550 veterans and
provided services that included medical, dental and optical care,
housing and employment referrals, social security and VA disability
assistance, health and substance abuse counseling, clothing, haircuts,
food, and entertainment. The event ran very smoothly this year
and I want to acknowledge that VVAW is a large part of what makes
it a success.
We are so fortunate that you have taken responsibility for
the kitchen all these years. After ten years, weaker souls might
have abandoned ship, but you have remained as reliable and steady
as ever. I know that you have to deal with many different personalities
and you do that with grace. I know that you have to deal with
cramped quarters and lots of mess, but this does not seem to faze
you. You have worked to find a solution to the "volunteer
eating" dilemma, which I know has remained a problem. But,
when you had to face that unbreaded perch this year, I thought
there would finally be a revolt! But somehow you all managed to
stay in that awful kitchen and fry up fish in 120 degrees. I am
making it my mission to find a veterans group that will take over
this Friday evening meal, because I feel that too much of this
has fallen on you each year. I know that each of the groups that
come in to prepare meals appreciate your support and remark on
how much easier their job is because of you.
Veterans come to StandDown for many reasons. Some have a specific
service that they want to access that day. Some come for the free
food and festive atmosphere. Some wander in not sure why they
are there and leave with new direction. It is very hard to measure
the specific accomplishments of StandDown, but I know that without
the dedication, generosity and good humor of VVAW, StandDown would
be in trouble.
Jeanne A. Douglas Ph.D.
Oak Park Vet Center