The Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council (GCVAC), Inc partnered with the Salvation Army to hold a Veterans Stand Down on Friday, September 23rd at the Salvation Army located at 1501 Q Street.

GCVAC works with the Department of Veterans Affairs and local Veteran’s Service Officers, Humana, Escambia County Pensacola Florida, Career Source Escarosa, HUMANA , Pen Air Federal Credit Union,  University of West Florida,   Pensacola State College, American Legion Post #240 and #340.

Legal Services of North Florida also provided FREE legal services to the Veterans and Clerk of the Circuit Court provided Veterans Court.

 The Salvation Army and Staff was a great host, serving those who have served our Nation.  This is the primary goal of the Pensacola Stand Down.  “We treat the Veteran participants with respect and dignity.  Their former service to our nation is evidence of their ability to succeed and is also reason enough for our community to support them in regaining success,” said Joseph Herring, CFO/ Acting Executive Director of GCVAC.

“Stand Down” is a term used during the war to describe the practice of removing combat troops from the field and taking care of their basic needs in a safe area.  A significant number of Veterans that attended have had little or no contact with the VA for either monetary or medical benefits.  Nor have they made any contact with any other agency offering assistance. 

Aiding or helping to improve their situations, especially for combat Veterans, is a difficult process which cannot be ignored. “These are a few reasons why we connected them with local Colleges and Universities, employers, health care services, businesses and services providers who provided toiletries and clothing, meals, emergency and transitional shelter, court services/legal, haircuts, free cellular phones and myriad of other services and resources, “Herring. 

The Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council, Inc. (GCVAC) was established to be a voice for veterans to the veteran health care system and address mental health issues including PTSD and TBI. 

“If you have issues or know of issues veterans are dealing with, the GCVAC primary goal is to be a voice for veterans and help bridge the gaps in services and needs,” said Herring.

In order to facilitate this, the Council holds monthly meetings with guest speakers, coordinate community events to provide information that is relevant to veterans. Using email helps spread the word about VA and community events and by developing programs to aid veterans and their families.

The Council addresses issues that concern veterans, by bringing the issues to the appropriate parties needed to facilitate changes that benefit veterans. The Council works diligently to help homeless veterans, women veterans and incarcerated veterans, disabled veterans, unemployed veterans and our returning OIF/OEF / OND veterans.

Always willing to help, GCVAC facilitated the 2016 Delta Veterans Stand Down homeless veteran stand down in Washington County, Greensville, Mississippi on September 10, 2016.  This has now become an annual event to help provide services and resources in this underserved area.

Council facilitates homeless Veteran Stand downs in three (3) states; Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. We have access to trained service officers in Florida-Alabama and Mississippi to assist with filing claims. “We work closely with state, federal and community organizations to provide resources for employment, housing, VA services, legal aid and much more,” said Herring.

The Gulf Coast Veterans Advocacy Council Inc. mission is to be a voice for all veterans concerning mental and physical health care, to advocate needed changes in the veteran health care system and make recommendations to improve the quality of life for the veterans and their families.

Meetings in FL, Mobile, AL & MS provide veterans, veteran families and community partners with relevant information concerning health care, claims, resources and veteran events. For additional information about the meetings visit our website: www.gcvacflalms.org

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