Operation Stand Down aims to end homelessness in NWLA
"My life was in turmoil. I was doing drugs and alcohol and I didn't see any purpose of me being on this Earth."
Once homeless herself, Army veteran, Elane McDade, eventually decided she'd had enough. She sought help and now volunteers to aid those she once stood beside.
"It was very intensive, but it was very worthwhile. My whole life changed," recalls McDade.
She's just one of the hundreds of volunteers at Operation Stand Down, a health and services fair aimed at ending homelessness in Northwest Louisiana.
"We see anywhere from 500 to 800 people in a day," says Carolyn Green, with Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.
About 35 percent of those are military veterans. Green says everything from clothing to health screenings is offered at Operation Stand Down, which ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church at the head of Texas St. in downtown Shreveport.
"We have HIV testing. We can do counseling if someone needs mental health or substance abuse counseling."
Green says the event is driven by the multitude of agencies and volunteers that give their time to provide essential services for a nine parish region.
"We've got free haircuts by Louisiana Technical Barber College. The physicals are for everyone. We'll have a hot meal for everyone this afternoon."
And though the cycle is tough to break, McDade says asking for help is the first step.
"If you take a litte step to the right people, somebody will listen."
Now in its 16th year, The Operation is co-hosted by Hope for the Homeless and Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.
Their next event will be in Longview, TX on November 29th.
For more information about that event, or about how you can volunteer, call Hope for the Homeless at (318) 670-4591 or Overton Brooks VA Medical Center at (318) 990-4404.
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