Community rallies behind veterans during VNA Hospice’s Veteran Stand Down

Community rallies behind veterans during VNA Hospice’s Veteran Stand Down

On Wednesday, June 28, VNA Hospice of Northwest Indiana held its second annual Veteran Stand Down to help connect veterans to countless life-changing resources within their community. Veterans from all over the Region gathered at the Porter County Expo Center to learn about these different opportunities, engage with their fellow veterans, and meet plenty of new faces wishing to show them a bit of gratitude.

VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023

VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023 82 Photos
VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023VNA Hospice Stand Down 2023

VNA Hospice held its first Veteran Stand Down last year when its team realized that veterans were struggling to find the resources they needed to live more fulfilling lives. There was no better way to help them than by creating a space where veterans could explore, all at once, the many resources that are available to them. 

“This is a really important event for us because we do a lot of work with veterans and strive to make sure that we support veterans not just in our hospice program but across our community. There was a need for somebody to step in and fill this gap in our community a couple of years ago and we did it without a second thought,” said VNA Hospice CEO Bob Franko. 

Last year’s event went wonderfully and ended up serving over 120 veterans. This year’s Veteran Stand Down, though, was even better. Over 55 vendors and 50 volunteers came out to show their support for the community’s veterans and inform them about all the different ways they can help make veterans’ lives a little better. 

Many of the organizations went as far as to provide immediate services for the veterans. One booth gave free haircuts while another booth provided free massages. A couple of stations did blood pressure and blood sugar screenings for the veterans. People from the Porter County Recorders Office were there to scan in DD214 forms while the DAV was there to sign up veterans for disability plans. The Women’s Auxiliary even provided a delicious sloppy joe meal for everyone. 

“It’s amazing how much this event has taken off for us--we have so much volunteer and vendor support. There’s a big need in Porter County to serve veterans so to have the opportunity to do this is really special. We’re really excited about it and glad to keep doing this for our veterans,” said We Honor Veterans and Volunteer Services Coordinator Erica Kerkes. 

Over a dozen veterans stood lined up at the Expo Center’s doors waiting to get into the event long before it started. Seeing the veterans waiting so eagerly reminded everyone why events like this are so important. 

“Many of our military people struggle. They struggle to find help for all kinds of things because they don’t know what is out there for them. There are so many resources available in the community but if they don’t know about them they can’t take advantage of them. This event shows them that there are so many organizations that want to help them, and if one organization can’t help them there are plenty of other organizations that can. It’s a great opportunity,” said We Honor Veterans committee member Dorothy Holland. 

Dan Becker, the owner of Coffin Coffee Company, came to the event to provide free coffee to the veterans and brighten up their day. As a veteran himself, Becker was moved by seeing so many veterans he knew coming to the event and taking advantage of its resources. 

“It means a lot to me, being here today. A lot of veterans won’t ask for help. They feel like they have to do things on their own, otherwise, they’re a failure. I’ve had several friends who have committed suicide or attempted suicide instead of reaching out and that’s why it’s so important to make sure veterans know that it’s okay to ask for help. Events like this where they place the resources they need in their laps do so much,” said Becker. 

It was touching to see the veterans walk around the room holding goodie bags filled with shampoo, body wash, food, reading glasses, and even some clothes. It was even more touching to see several of the veterans take business cards and tell the vendors they would reach out for help.

“It’s just a small thing that we can do for our military men and women who have served our country. It’s our way of giving back,” said Holland. 

Ultimately VNA Hospice’s second annual Veteran Stand Down couldn’t have been more meaningful or successful. Many veterans’ lives have been changed for the better simply by attending this one event. VNA Hospice’s work is far from over, though--its team won’t stop working until every veteran has access to the resources they need. 

“I think the true success of an event like this will be when we can open the doors and there’s nobody there because our veterans already have everything they need. But until that day comes, we’ll keep opening those doors,” said Franko. 

Moving forward, VNA Hospice can’t wait to keep growing and adapting the event to touch even more veterans’ lives. 

“We really try to listen to the veterans and let them tell us what they need and what will help them the most. We want to make sure that we continue to be responsive to them and make sure that this event is geared toward their needs as we serve different generations,” said Franko. 

To learn more about VNA Hospice and everything it does for our community’s veterans, visit