Those who served are served in turn by Salvation Army Red Shield Services
By: David Ibata
Having served their country, it was their turn to be served at the recent Operation Reveille for homeless military veterans in Atlanta, hosted by The Salvation Army Red Shield Services in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.
Nearly 100 former service members came to the Kroc Center Sept. 19 to be served by more than 80 volunteers with a meal, haircuts, health screenings and other services. Each veteran also got a resource bag containing blankets, soap, toothpaste, sheets and overalls.
This was the 12th year the Army has participated, though the event went by another name in previous years, Kevin Hall said. Hall is program manager at Red Shield Services, operator of a transitional shelter in Atlanta for people moving from homelessness to stable housing.
“In the past, this was known as Operation Stand Down,” Hall said. “The VA spearheaded it once a year, normally in October. Last year, they asked me, ‘How do you feel about spearheading it?’ – because technically someone in the community should be doing it. I asked my boss and she said sure, go ahead and do it.”
Working with Adriane Thomas of the VA, Hall arranged for the Kroc Center to host the event and provide lunch. Other community partners included CEI Hair Schools, offering free haircuts; SunTrust and WellsFargo banks, financial information; HOPE Atlanta, housing financial assistance; and First Step Staffing, employment.
Also participating were WellCare Health Plans, giving Medicare and Medicaid information; the Fulton County Health Department, conducting health screenings and HIV testing; the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, talking about career training; and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Salvation Army officers including Lieutenant Antwann Yocum, senior pastor at the Atlanta Kroc Center, offered spiritual care.
“Primarily, what we were doing was greeting and talking with veterans,” Lieutenant Yocum said. “A lot of the veterans live in the community, and a lot are homeless. We shook hands, prayed with people, and I gave a couple of hugs. These folks don’t often have an opportunity to be loved.”
“I’m hopeful a couple of them will be coming back. We serve food every day and breakfast on Sunday mornings. They give us an opportunity to interface with them on a regular basis.”
The 2018 Operation Reveille was the first of what its organizers hope will be an annual event every September.
“I thought it went very, very well,” Hall said. “Everything linked perfectly; like a watch, everything was in sync – housing, benefits, medical assistance, and all the partners there to offer their services in case a veteran had a need or knew someone who did.”