The number of homeless veterans is an American disgrace. The number of former military men living on the streets of major cities is well documented. What isn’t documented is those that live on the edge of society in more rural settings.
A “Stand Down” will be held on Saturday, November 19 at 1461 North 8th Street West in Riverton from noon to 5 p.m. to help local homeless veterans or any veteran in need.
It’s estimated that 20 to 25 homeless veterans now reside in Riverton alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the shelters where these men could find a warm place to sleep, a little counseling and a hot meal, and they haven’t reopened.
One Riverton woman decided to find a way to help these veterans.
Jennifer Bates of rural Riverton saw a need and decided to meet it in her own way.
“There was a need for clothing and bedding for veterans, “Bates said. “I asked what else, and they said supplies and shoes.”
Bates hasn’t found a way to get shoes yet, since no one wants to wear someone else’s footwear, but she is working on it.
“I contacted Veterans Hall and they suggested a “Stand Down” to get them emergency kits, haircuts, food for the day, and supplies,” Bates said. “If they need a ride they can go through their local veteran’s post.”
There will be a food truck on-site to provide meals.
Bates and her husband Dan run an auction service, and often purchase the contents of storage units, and help people distribute their home items from sales or if they’re moving.
“People brought me things at auctions, and a couple brought entire pickup loads,” Bates said.
Bates will spend the weekend sorting, washing, and organizing the items in a cabin located on their property at 1461 North 8th West in Riverton.
“We’ll hang coats on the trailer, and stack bedding, and clothing on the bed,” Bates said. “They can take whatever they need. If you’re a veteran and have a military ID, you are welcome.”
Bates has special place in her heart for veterans. Her sons are veterans, with her middle son out of the Army after his enlistment was up. Her older son is in the Army’s officers training program at present.
“It was shocking to me that they have all those buildings and things in place, and no one helps homeless vets, “Bates said. “The stuff we have will always be available to veterans.”