American Legion Post to help count homeless veterans

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NORWAY — The Stone-Smart American Legion Post on Wednesday will assist in a statewide count of homeless veterans.

The hall on Main Street will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, for homeless veterans who are invited to have sandwiches and soup and to talk about services available to them, Post 82 Commander Ron Snow said.

“This is our first attempt at our post’s level,” Snow said. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs has a Veterans Stand Down each fall to find homeless vets, the local posts have participated with outreach briefings only the past few years.

American Legion posts in Paris, Oxford and Dixfield also are assisting in the count. Each post will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Swasey-Torrey American Legion Post 100 in Dixfield and the Norway post will have soup and sandwiches for all who show up, Snow said.

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He said homelessness does not have to mean living on the streets. “You could be staying in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, hotel/motel paid by voucher, unsheltered, safe haven, marginally housed (couch surfing or doubling up), at imminent risk of becoming homeless or being evicted within the next 14 days,” he said.

Members of Post 82 recently met with VISTA volunteer Jerry DeWitt to learn how to fill out the state forms for the upcoming statewide count of homeless individuals and families. Government funds are sent to states and agencies based on the number of homeless people who live in each community, Snow said.

According to 2012 statistics from the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, about 221,914 Mainers served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.

“I do not know how many homeless vets (are) in the area, but if we only reach out to one, we have succeeded,” Snow said.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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