Macon Stand Down to stand up for veterans

For the third year, volunteers Friday are treating veterans to a day of free food, medical screenings, clothing, haircuts and more.

The annual Macon Stand Down for Veterans is moving this year to the Georgia National Guard Armory at 475 Shurling Drive, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For the past two years, it was held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9709 on Key Street. It drew 300 veterans the first year, and after drawing 500 last year, packing the small building, organizers decided they needed a bigger location.

The event is organized by Volunteer Macon in conjunction with many other organizations and businesses, including Central Georgia Homefront, which is focused on helping veterans in need.

Brian Faulds, Central Georgia Homefront director, said the event is primarily aimed at homeless veterans, but he said all veterans are welcome. Getting the word out to homeless veterans isn’t so big of a problem as it might seem, he said.

“These guys are plugged in, and if they can come, they will come,” he said.

Veterans are asked to bring proof of their military service, but if they don’t have it, they can still come. Veteran volunteers are on hand who can ask questions that only veterans know.

The Macon-Bibb Fire Department is cooking up free barbecue, and Central Georgia Technical College students are providing haircuts. Counseling and other free assistance will also be available.

In addition to the new location, Faulds said, one difference this year is that they are cutting back on the number of for-profit vendors. Some last year were offering various services to veterans for a fee, but with just a few exceptions this year, he said, everything at the event will be free.

Among the organizations to have representatives at the event are the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Labor and others.

There will also be a section especially for female veterans.

For more information, call Volunteer Macon at 478-742-6677, or type 2014 Macon Stand Down into the Facebook search bar.