Veterans can get help at Macon VFW post event

Local veterans can get a wide variety of free services Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at VFW Post 9709, 711 Key St. in Macon: clothing, lunch, medical tests, housing and job assistance, counseling, legal help and even haircuts.

The Macon “Veterans Stand Down” event comes courtesy of state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, the VFW post and at least 30 state and local organizations. Post Commander Lonnie Miley, who is also a city councilman, said the medical help will include eye and dental exams. He said Mercer University and Central Georgia Technical College will offer program information while the Georgia Department of Labor will be there for job seekers, and veterans’ groups will inform people of available benefits.

“Anybody who’s put on a uniform, male or female, we’ll be offering our services to them,” Miley said.

Rick Jones, general manager of Macon Transit Authority, contributed bus passes for free rides to Post 9709, which are available at several locations around town.

Beverly said that when President Barack Obama started bringing American troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, he decided he had to do something to help those soldiers in their return to civilian life.

Veterans Stand Downs have been held locally for the past six years. Last year’s at the Macon Rescue Mission, led by the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin and the Service for Service organization, drew more than 300 people.

Beverly said he and two staffers have worked on organizing this year’s event for some time, but his first calls about it to this area were to Miley and his brother Ronnie, commander of the Disabled American Veterans Raymond Williams Chapter 50.

Thursday, he and the Mileys were flanked by representatives of some of the groups involved as volunteers bustled around tables in the VFW hall, unloading piles of clothing and other supplies.

Beverly said he and the many partner organizations involved want this to be the first of many such events, and he hopes next year the event will need to move to a larger facility.

Lonnie Miley said once Friday’s event is over, the VFW and other sponsors want to follow up on veterans’ needs, especially for the homeless, and stay in contact with them to make sure they receive the services they deserve.

Veterans are asked to bring their DD-214 discharge forms or Veterans Affairs cards as proof of veteran status.

For more information on the Macon “Veterans Stand Down,” call Eric Bryson at 737-4033.

To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.