By NSRDEC Public AffairsSeptember 25, 2007
NATICK, Mass. - Volunteers providing services, such as food, clothing, health screenings, showers, haircuts, and Veterans and Social Security benefits counseling, to homeless Veterans during Massachusetts Stand Down Days in Boston Aug. 10 and 11 were assisted by equipment on loan from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
About four years ago, the Shelter Technology, Engineering and Fabrication Directorate of the NSRDEC was the first to assist.
STEFD was contacted by Marybeth O'Sullivan, a Navy Veteran and the outreach advisor for the Veterans Upward Bound program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said Dan Feeley, equipment specialist. Originally Doug Melvin, also an equipment specialist in STEFD, was the point of contact and worked out an agreement where they would supply the labor and we would provide the tents, continued Feeley, who has since taken on the role as POC. There are a number of Navy Seabees who are assigned to the event and they have the experience to set up the equipment. "This year we loaned them two tents," he said, "a GP medium and a GP large."
Three years ago, the STEFD also put O'Sullivan in touch with the Combat Feeding Directorate and they have been loaning equipment as well.
"This year we provided a MKT [Mobile Kitchen Trailer] along with all the necessary accessories to prepare meals," said Louis Jamieson, equipment specialist, CFD. "Previously they were using barrels or home barbeque grills," he continued. "Not only was that not efficient, but it wasn't safe either."
Several of the Seabees had previously been certified at Natick in the safe use of the MKT and the MKT was used to provide three complete meals to the Veterans over the two-day period.
O'Sullivan said, "We served over 550 homeless Veterans living within the greater Boston area. Due to the availability of the MKT, the meals that were provided for our Veterans were nutritious, and the weekend's mission was completed with the greatest efficiency! Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served on time and with no difficulties."
Feeley said the annual arrangement works out well. They get the equipment they need to run the event and we get to help out Veterans, he said.
A note from O'Sullivan expresses her gratitude, "Many thanks for the support you and your team at NSRDEC provided for Massachusetts Stand Down. Once again, I thank you for supporting our efforts in assisting Veterans who have fallen on difficult times. I look forward to our continued relationship as we continue to fight our current war on homelessness."
Anthony Celluci, engineering aid, CFD, said, "It was an honor for the CFD team to assist in providing a positive service for our homeless Veterans who have served this country proudly, and CFD will continue to support this important cause."
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs' website, Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to provide services to homeless Veterans. They are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, benefits counseling and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.