Veterans Stand Down in Wheeling Assists About 80 Former Servicemembers
Eighty-one veterans — three of them homeless — took advantage of services and free military surplus items during the Veterans Stand Down event Wednesday at West Virginia Northern Community College’s gymnasium.
Jeff Blumenauer, a member of the Veteran Stand Down Association, was pleased with this year’s turnout. He said last year’s event attracted 66 veterans.
Forty-seven agencies also were in attendance offering help to veterans from across the Ohio Valley.
He said the homeless veterans were connected with an agency that could help them with housing. They also were given sleeping bags and other items to keep them warm during cold weather.
Blumenauer, an Army veteran and resident of Piney Fork, which is near Dillonvale, said the association wants to get bigger and have the ability to help veterans year-round.
For example, it recently helped a veteran who relocated to the Ohio Valley for work from Texas. Until the veteran got his first paycheck, the association gave him gas cards and other items.
“We’re here to help the veterans in need,” he said.
Rayland resident James Dietrich, a Navy veteran who served during Desert Storm and Desert Shield and later in the Reserves, said it was his first time attending the Stand Down.
He said when he came home from the war and became a Reservist it was difficult for him to find a job. Many potential employers, he said, did not want to hire him because he had to do training periodically for the military.
Dietrich said he also wished more Ohio Valley people and companies would understand and support veterans and their sacrifices — including understanding that they had to kill enemies during battle.
“It’s not what we want to do, but it’s what we have to do because it’s our job,” he said.