According to CEO Eden Murrie, Operation Stand Down first started in 1993. She says they have three focus areas: engaging, equipping, and empowering military veterans and their families through their crisis, career, and connection services.
Federal funding allows this organization to help Veterans with temporary financial assistance if they struggle with rent, utilities, and security deposits. Operation Stand Down also offers some services to surviving spouses, however, federal money cannot be used for that.
Through their connection services, OSD reaches out to those who served and connects them with other vets, the VA, or other organizations. They look at how they can help veterans with their careers, help them find more affordable housing, and with food assistance. Through their Operation Commissary, the program sets up veterans with one food bag per family member, per month. It also sets them up with case management to check and see if they enrolled in their Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits, or other programs to help with finances, employment, and housing. For those transitioning out of the military, or moving to Tennessee, Operation Stand Down helps you through their career services. They assist veterans in finding a job, help build their resume, help with the equipment they may need, or help you with any certifications or licenses a vet may need. Operation Stand Down's biggest goal is to connect veterans with other veterans. Murrie says they hold events just for that, such as going to a brewery, a picnic, or gun range. Murrie knows some vets want that connection, and some don't, but even if you do not want to meet up every day or at every event, occasionally talking about the past and going to events can be nice.
One reason Operation Stand Down focuses on connection so much is because of the suicide rate among veterans. Statistics show 17 to 22 veterans take their own life every day, and according to Murrie, 50% of those vets are not connected to a veterans organization or the VA. While this organization isn't a mental health provider, it can connect a veteran with one. To make that connection, they must get veterans needing help to reach out to Operation Stand Down through their outreach program, where they meet and just chat with veterans. This organization welcomes vets to their offices to chat if they need help, they are located in Nashville, Clarksville, and Colombia, each office has a coffee bar, so vets can grab a cup of coffee while they chat.
Along with connecting with other veterans, Operation Stand Down encourages those transitioning out of the military to enroll in their VA entitlements, which can help with burial costs and survivor compensation. OSD's health care navigators help veterans enroll in the program, and let them know of any changes the VA has made with their care. Newly introduced, veterans at imminent risk of self-harm can go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost. It includes inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans aren’t required to be enrolled in the VA to use this benefit. According to Murrie, post-911 veterans could be entitled to GI Bill benefits, Yellow Ribbon benefits, and veterans could go back to school almost for free.
If you'd like to honor a veteran or veteran supporter, you can do so with the Portraits of Patriots. After your purchase, a plaque will be hung at the entrance of the Nashville Veteran Service Center. Another way you can recognize a veteran is through the Dog Tag Flag. For $100 you can memorialize a Veteran, family member, or friend with a pair of personalized dog tags. One dog tag will be displayed on a custom American flag made by those dog tags at the service center, and the other dog tag will be yours to keep.
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My name is Jess and I love telling other peoples stories and bringing awareness to the community.