MFRI hosting third annual Stand Down for homeless veterans

November 7, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - November is Homeless Awareness Month, and the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University will hold a Stand Down for veterans and their families in Lafayette on Saturday (Nov. 9).

The local event, which has been held annually for three years, will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development estimates that nearly 76,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in 2009. MFRI's Stand Down is a collaborative effort among local businesses, nonprofit organizations and community members.

"Our troops are returning from deployments abroad, but the fight to end homelessness among our veterans is far from over," said MFRI assistant director Martina Sternberg. "Our sponsors and service providers recognize that. By participating in Stand Down, they let area veterans facing difficult times know they are not alone."

More than 400 homeless, almost homeless and at-risk veterans and family members attended last year's Stand Down in Lafayette. They received benefits which included employment and housing opportunities, résumé-writing assistance, information pertaining to VA benefits, health care, personal and spiritual counseling, groceries, free calls, clothing, hygiene kits, haircuts, backpacks, bus and phone cards, and home mortgage assistance.

The first Stand Down was created during the Vietnam War to provide military members time away from the battlefield. Early Stand Downs allowed military members to rest from combat, take care of personal hygiene, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, and enjoy camaraderie in a safe environment.

The first Stand Down for homeless veterans was organized in 1988 by a group of San Diego Vietnam veterans, according to the National Center for Homeless Veterans. Similar events have since spread nationwide to give vets a rest from the combat of homelessness.

The Lafayette event is part of the area's Veteran Appreciation Week. Volunteers are still needed. Those interested should contact Sternberg at

Writer: Liz Evans, 765-494-2084, 

Source: Martina Sternberg, 765-496-3403,

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