"Stand Down" helping veterans reclaim quality of life - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

"Stand Down" helping veterans reclaim quality of life


A local organization is proving it has the power to help change the lives of homeless veterans and those in need through a program called, Stand Down.

Donald Killins was living on the streets three years ago—going against the principles and values he learned from his parents as a child. "I was not taught to live that way, but I was going about life the wrong way and doing whatever I wanted to do," explained Killins.

His life took a turn for the better when he came across organizers from, Stand Down. The term derived from the Veterans Affairs Administration 20 years ago when soldiers were pulled from the front lines and told to ‘stand down' and take a rest, according to Michael Dover, President of the South Atlantic Center for Veterans Education and Training known as SAC-VET.

Killins took advantage of the resources provided by Stand Down. Those resources were developed following a three year nationwide study with veterans from across San Diego to the eastern coast. Since 2007, Stand Down has brought several organizations under one roof and invited former soldiers to part-take in the activities.

The conference is designed to meet veterans' physical, psychological and family needs. "We bring in doctors, dentists, organizations like New Horizons, that provide assistance with job readiness and housing," added Dover.

Registration includes a complete assessment of the veteran's needs and doctors provide on-site exams in an area sectioned off from the main conference.

The event is growing by leaps and bounds with 1000 veterans and more than 3500 sponsors and support organizations in attendance last year.

Killins will be there helping veterans who faced the same struggles he once did. He has been so successful at making a comeback; he's now serving on the board along with Dr. Richard Allen who remembers the shape Killins was in when he first came to program. "It's wonderful to see him doing so well...that's what this program is all about," said Allen.

Breakfast and lunch are provided during the event from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Columbus Trade Center on Saturday, April 28.

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