'Stand Down' in Phoenix provides comprehensive service for veterans

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - They served in every branch of the military, like Navy veteran Michael Olhausen, waiting for hours for a new lease on life.

"I'm actually here to get my teeth cleaned and look at different housing options," he said. "I'm also here for a little help with my social security and get my driver's license address changed."

The 18th Annual Stand Down for Veterans event is taking place at the state fairgrounds. In 2017, over 2,100 veterans were served, and new this year is dental care in addition to previously offered services, like getting a new license, finding a job and handling legal matters.

"A lot of times we have homeless individuals, veterans that have crimes of homelessness, so loitering, trespassing... things like that, so what we want to do is get those things resolved on site here so they are not cycling through the court and legal system," Shane Groen said.

Groen is a special initiative director and says what he has noticed most about the past 18 years since Stand Down has been in operation is the shift in demographics.

"In the beginning, it was 80 percent homeless and 20 percent what we call 'at risk' and we've seen that flip entirely to about 20 percent homeless, 80 percent at risk," he said.

As a result, services have shifted from handouts to a hand up. The event now is an opportunity for veterans to get their lives back on track.

"You get to actually to in and you can see a judge, you know, that's a big help because they make the rules," one veteran said.

Eleven different Stand Downs take place statewide.

This is the largest.