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Standing up for WNC veterans at Stand Down event

The Franklin Press - 10/4/2017

One of the most impactful events of the year in Macon County will take place on Thursday.

The line of cars trying to get in and out of the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building parking lot, along with the lines of men and women waiting to get in the door, will be the telltale signs that something big is going on.

The Smoky Mountain Veterans Stand Down connects area veterans with important services and information, and each year the attendance at the event has grown.

In 2016, a total of a 170 veterans took part in the event that was organized, planned and pulled off by close to 400 volunteers. Of those 170 veterans, 95 were from Macon County, and five listed themselves as homeless on their registration form.

From Macon County Public Transit to the local barbers, dentists and eye doctors, there will be services crossing the spectrum of demographics. Veterans male and female, young and old, will certainly find something that they can use at the Stand Down.

The numerous ways that the Stand Down touches the lives of area vets cannot be overstated.

As our country continues to experience trying times politically, disasters dominate the news and tensions between nations seem to escalate daily via text and tweet, one cause that all citizens should be able to get behind is helping those who have served our nation.

Being in the military is a sacrifice that requires dedication, discipline and desire. Unfortunately, when many of our veterans' service time is over they find that our society isn't as appreciative of their effort as it should be. Long wait times for VA services, declining benefits and often less than desirable job opportunities are all too common.

Seeing our service men and women spend a day getting the respect that that they have earned is satisfying for all involved in the Stand Down. Macon County Veteran's Services Director Leigh Tabor has even gone as far as to say that the event is her favorite day of the year, despite the countless hours of hard work that she and the veterans services staff put in to help make the Stand Down possible.

If getting a new jacket from the military surplus gear depot helps a homeless veteran, or getting a tooth filled ends chronic pain, the effort is worth it.

In this day and age taking care of our veterans is the least we can do, and the Stand Down is a much-appreciated way to fill some gaps and say a collective thank you.

 
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