Story and photos by Jennifer Scales, Columbia VA Health Care System Public Affairs

Shoes, blankets, socks, sweat shirts, toiletries and other items were provided during an internal Needs Stand Down, June 27 at the Columbia VA Health Care System.

Veterans on the receiving and giving end of this event were grateful and appreciative throughout the process.

The first Veteran grateful for free items, which were donated by various individuals and group charities to the Columbia VAHCS Voluntary Service Office, was Air Force Veteran Paul Williams.

“I am grateful for any help that is provided to me,” Williams said, originally from Harlem, New York. “I find myself at times just needing that extra bit to make it through the months, and this is surely just in time.”

Army Veteran Vondell Davis, deputy for the Salvation Army Corps of Columbia, was on hand to show his appreciation to those who have served in service to this country.

“Being a Veteran of the Vietnam era, this is just my way of giving back and showing a small token of my appreciation for their service,” Davis said. “Whether they have served in the past or the present, I just want to show them they are respected for their personal dedication.”

Voluntary Service Specialist for the Columbia VA HCS, Wilfredo Solis, detailed the reason for the Stand Down.

“We know we have Veterans in our community who have needs more than just around holidays,” Solis said. “This is just a way for us to continue to provide for their comfort and basic life necessities throughout the year. This is my first time being involved in a stand down. Being an Army Veteran also, I feel this is a calling for me to continue to serve those who have come before, during and after my time in service.”

Michael Liles, an Army Veteran, was able to step in to gather a few of the donated items for a Veteran friend unable to attend.

“This is a great way of showing compassion and helping the Veterans at the same time,” Liles said.

“This is the best stand down that I have seen in my three years of working here at the VA,” said Mary Kirkland, a Voluntary Service Specialist for the Columbia VAHCS. “This was very organized, the volunteers were great, it started on time and most of all, the Veterans were appreciative.”

Photo: Vondell Davis (left), Army Veteran and volunteer, assists Veterans in getting items during the Needs Stand Down, June 27 at the Columbia VA Health Care System.

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