Veterans Stand Down coming back to Franklin

    Franklin – Veterans from across western North Carolina will have a one-stop spot for a myriad of services during the fifth annual Smoky Mountains Veteran Stand Down.
     The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building, 1288 Georgia Road.
    Veterans who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless or struggling with affording proper care can receive the help they need during the event. From haircuts and dental work to eye exams and mental health assistance, members of the community will offer services free of charge.
    Leigh Tabor, director of Macon County Veteran Services, said one of the biggest assets of the event involves the on-sight U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs representatives.
    If a veteran has a file to claim for benefits that’s taking a long time, or they have unsettled problems with the VA, she said personnel can help answer questions and oftentimes resolve issues on the spot. Veterans are asked to bring their VA Identification card or DD-214, if possible.
    Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees.
     Tabor said last year’s event welcomes 208 veterans from across 13 counties in North Carolina and five more in Georgia. The event is a collaboration between the community, local veterans service officers and the N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions.
    “We want people to know it’s not a VA event, it’s a community event,” Tabor said. “Veterans can come for the fellowship and to be with other veterans.”
    Tabor said during past years she has helped with the Veteran Stand Down, she has seen numerous success stories.
    Last year, she said a homeless U.S. military veteran sought out help during the event. He previously experienced a heart attack, which resulted in him losing his job. Trying to afford his medical bills without a job, he inevitably lost his home and car, becoming homeless.
    “When he came to our Stand Down he got in touch with the right people, got benefits from the VA and got back onto his feet,” Tabor said.
    “It was literally life-changing for him. It was wonderful to tell him that he was going to receive benefits. He was blown away.”
    Cherokee County Transit will provide a free ride to and from the Smoky Mountains Veteran Stand Down. Pickup will be at the Cherokee County Courthouse in downtown Murphy at 8 a.m. The bus will return at 3 p.m.
    For those needing a ride, call Cherokee County Veteran Services at 828-835-8663.