The Stand Down Program was held in Detroit on October 16, 2019. This event is a collaborative effort coordinated with the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, the 36th District Court, other government agencies and community-based homeless service providers. The Court participates annually in order to assist veterans in resolving outstanding matters as well to promote access to the Court and its resources.
This years’ event was a great success. Homeless veterans were provided with information and referrals for housing solutions, employment and substance abuse treatment, as well as other critical services such as food, clothing and health care screenings. Participants were also offered VA and Social Security counseling.
Participation in the Stand Down is strictly voluntary. Veterans Affairs Representatives accepted applications submitted by veterans one month prior to the event. The Court’s Probation Department assisted in reviewing and screening applicants for eligibility.
This year’s Stand Down was held at the Detroit Light Guard Armory to present a less intimidating and more relaxed venue for the veterans, versus a formal court setting. Hosting the event at this location also provided a sheltered environment for the veterans to socialize, share lunch, play games, enjoy entertainment or to just simply rest.
Judge Shannon A. Holmes sat with the participants at eye level to ease any tension and make the veterans feel comfortable. This initial judicial contact created a collaborative environment and established trust between the defendant and the judge versus a one-sided interaction.
Judge Holmes presided over 51 outstanding matters servicing 11 veterans. An additional 34 veterans with a total of 139 outstanding matters were not registered for Stand Down. However, Court staff addressed those not registered and assisted by scheduling future court dates with assigned house counsel attorneys to represent them in resolving those outstanding matters.
Judge Holmes stated, “It was such a privilege to serve the men and women who have given of themselves by serving in the armed forces. By putting on the uniform, they have not only served this country, but they have served every person in the community. I appreciate each of the members of our veterans population and look forward to serving you again next year.”
Stand Downs are national collaborative events coordinated between local veteran affairsagencies, the courts, and other government and community agencies who serve the homeless. The first Stand Down was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam veterans in San Diego, California. Since then Stand Downs have been used as an effective tool in reaching more than 700,000 veterans and their family members between 1994 and 2017.