SPRING HILL — Three hundred forty-eight veterans received everything from haircuts to dentures to dismissal of court-ordered fines at Operation Stand Down in Spring Hill on April 21-22. The annual event, organized by the New Port Richey-based nonprofit One Community Now, offers those who served, and especially those who served and are now without homes, a variety of medical and social services along with follow-up care.

“Stand Down” in combat areas is a term used to describe a time and place off the battlefield to rest and recover.

“Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 67,000 homeless veterans transition from life on the streets back to civilian life,” One Community Now says on its website. “Operation Stand Down is a time for the community to connect with our homeless and at-risk veterans to (offer) referrals for those struggling with mental health, unemployment, homelessness and addiction issues.”

Two hundred volunteers descended on Concourse Rotary Pavilion for two days, setting up tents to offer meals, medical care and more. One Community Now provided transportation and overnight accommodations to veterans who requested it. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis spoke at the event, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio sent representatives. Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation, Florida Baptist Dental, Mission Smiles, Baycare Faith and Rasmussen nursing students were among the volunteers. Five Veterans Administration nurses, a VA nurse practitioner and a VA doctor also participated.

Veterans were able to attend a makeshift, but legal, court, where preliminary numbers showed 13 veterans were assisted with 47 cases heard, 22 cases recalled from collections and $23,000 in court costs waived.

One hundred six veterans received medical screenings, 63 received acupuncture, two got flu shots, two got COVID vaccines, several received wound care, and six were seen for urgent care. Volunteers distributed 30 pairs of reading glasses, 45 harmonicas (for smokers and vets with COPD), and 70 boxes of Narcan.

“The veterans were pleased with the services and resources offered, and expressed their gratitude to our staff,” Shannon Raines, executive assistant and marketing staffer of One Community Now, told the Suncoast News via email. “We are so thankful we could be of service to these men and women who have fought to secure our freedom.”

May 4, 2023