‘‘Stand Down’’ is a military term referring to a chance to achieve a brief respite from combat. Troops assemble in a base camp to receive new clothing, hot food, and a relative degree of safety before returning to the front. The U.S. Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Services (DOL-VETS) wants to build on this approach, but for civilian veterans who are homeless. Stand Down events allow these veterans to take time out from the streets and shelters to access needed services and help re-entering the labor force.
Today, more than 160 organizations across the country partner with local businesses, government agencies, tribal governments, and community- and faith-based service providers to hold Stand Down events in local communities. The events are for homeless veterans and their families. Each year, the DOL-VETS awards Stand Down grants to assist with reintegration of homeless veterans into the labor force through programs that enhance employment and training.
Stand Down events can be single- or multi-day events, depending on community needs. Organizers should consider the size of their homeless veteran population, both sheltered and unsheltered, and the needs of that population, including sub-populations (e.g., women veterans, veteran families, veterans with disabilities). The services provided at Stand Downs should reflect the needs of participants. Successful events occur when a number of local agencies work together to plan, market, host, and operate the Stand Down event. These groups include HVRP grantees, local Department of Veteran Affairs, American Job Centers, Veteran Service Organizations, local offices of veteran affairs, service providers, and others.
Planning a Stand Down
Funding a Stand Down
Stand Down Resources
Though certain minimum services must be available for homeless veteran participants during a Stand Down (e.g., benefits counseling and access, medical and mental health services, housing assistance referrals, linkages to employment and training programs), many include other services, such as Veteran Court, food, and personal hygiene supplies. Although these concrete services are critical, it is the comradery and shared mission displayed at Stand Down events that help strengthen the resolve to end veteran homelessness.
Forming a Partnership
Beyond U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) funding, there are multiple partners that can provide in-kind donations, logistical and staff support, and other funding streams to help create a well-rounded and robustly funded Stand Down event.
A primary partner should be your local Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). VAMCs are typically involved at the local level and can provide screening, staffing, and other hands-on assistance at events. The VAMCs also have access to General Services Administration surplus items, and even funding. The VA website has a list of VA Stand Down points of contact (POCs).
Your local American Job Center (AJC), including its veteran services program, should be engaged in Stand Down events. AJCs may offer employment counseling, registration to the AJC, job leads with local employers, and information about job training.
Community colleges may also get involved by offering information about their services and supports for veterans, including academic and job training programs.
HVRP grantees are encouraged to participate in Stand Down events. If they are not the organizers of Stand Down, they can work with organizers to secure funding for the event. The U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) supports local Stand Down events that help homeless veterans attain meaningful civilian employment.
Stand Down funding is provided in the form of non-competitive grants that are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, until available funding is exhausted. For a Stand Down grant award, applicants must describe a plan that clearly demonstrates how grant funding will be used for homeless veterans only. Although both veterans and non-veterans may participate in Stand Down events, grant funding can only be used to purchase items, including food and meals, for veteran participants who are homeless.
Funding through DOL-VETS
Hosting a Stand Down event requires budget planning and fundraising efforts, including applying for DOL-VETS grants. A variety of organizations may apply for these grants, including State and local Workforce Investment Boards, Veterans Service Organizations, local public agencies, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations, including community and
faith-based organizations. These grants do not require matching funds but do encourage applicants to leverage other available resources to maximize the services to veterans and their families participating in Stand Down events.
Applicants for DOL-VETS Stand Down grants may request up to $10,000 in an application that follows certain guidelines. From time to time, DOL-VETS may change the process for Stand Down grant applications. Organizers should go directly to the DOL-VETS Stand Down page for the latest information about applying for a Stand Down grant.
Every year the NVTAC hosts one or more webinars on aspects of organizing and funding Stand Down Events.
The money provided by DOL-VETS is typically a large portion of a Stand Down budget, but engaging local partners for direct financing, support, and donations is critical to funding a successful event.
Stand Down organizers may secure funding in many ways. In some instances, commercial sponsors contribute; in other communities, foundations assist through grants. Many Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), faith-based organizations, nonprofits, private entities, philanthropic organizations, and individuals will donate money, time, services, and giveaway products to Stand Down operations. Soliciting new organizations, and engaging prior donors, should be part of an overall financing strategy.
Some Stand Down sponsors partner with the American Legion or other VSOs to host a fund raising event, such as North Bay Stand Down fundraising dinner in Dixon, CA. That funding is then used to enhance employment and training opportunities, or promote “self-sustainment” for homeless veterans.
Federal and private funds are used for food items, prepared meals, bottled water, clothing for homeless veterans (including shoes, boots, underwear, socks, coats), sleeping bags, personal hygiene care kits, facility and tent rentals, transportation to and from the Stand Down, event publicity, and other logistical or promotional costs.
For Homeless Veterans:
Here are some examples of forms Stand Down organizations have used to have veterans register in advance. This way they have a better idea of the potential number of attendees and their interests, needs, and contract information.
There are also registration forms for service organizations to sign up to attend the event and have booth/table from which to offer services, goods, or information to veterans. Here are a few samples:
Following are websites for actual Stand Downs. These sites may spark your creativity and offer ideas for developing, organizing, promoting, and engaging your community in local Stand Downs. If you would like your Stand Down website featured here, contact us at email@example.com:
Following are some examples of flyers, posters, news stories, and more, which were developed by many organizers to get the word out about their Stand Down event. These can be used for inspiration and models as you create your own marketing and promotional materials. If you would like to share some of your Stand Down materials with other HVRP grantees, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!