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Community comes together to offer veterans services

Community comes together to offer veterans services

It’s no secret homelessness across the region is a problem, but as in most parts of the country, it’s a bigger problem among veterans of the nation’s armed forces. 

“I would say we have about six veterans in Macon County who are truly homeless. That number fluctuates but that would be an average,” said Leigh Tabor with Macon County Veterans Services. “In the region it is a big problem. Buncombe County has the VRQ (Veteran Restoration Quarters) which houses over 240 men. There is also a place called Steadfast House for female veterans and their children.”

There’s nothing like that in Haywood, Jackson, Macon or Swain counties, but there are veterans service offices in those counties, as well as Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties. 

“These offices provide the same services that my office does, and are supplemented by the Canton Veteran Service Center, which is a State service office. Franklin has the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which provides primary care, mental health and other services to veterans in this area,” Tabor said.

Those county-level offices, though, don’t receive funding that can be used to provide assistance, so they typically look to the community for help. 

“We do have contacts that we link veterans with so that they can get the services they need, and our service organizations are wonderful about stepping up to the plate and helping out when needed,” she said. 

That’s the idea behind the Smoky Mountain Veteran Stand Down, to be held Thursday, Sept. 27.

“This year will be our fifth year holding the Stand Down. Each year it has grown, and last year we saw a little over 200 veterans from six different states,” said Tabor. “The Stand Down is basically a one-day event of one-stop shopping to provide a veteran with any resource he or she might need. They can get anything from a haircut and a shower to dental care, tax help, social and spiritual needs, and job help.”

All those services are donated, except for dental services, which are covered by community donations. 

“Most providers donate their services as an outreach to veterans, and also as a way to say thank you,” Tabor said. 

Smoky Mountain Veteran Stand Down

Veterans who may be struggling to meet basic needs can take advantage of a plethora of free services; for more information contact the Macon County Veteran Services at 828.349.2151.

• Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Date: Thursday, Sept. 27

• Location: Robert C. Carpenter Community Building, 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin

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