Stand Down for Veterans to take place March 31st and April 1st, 2008

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NASA Education Stand Down is scheduled to take place March 31 and April 1, 2008 at YMCA Camp Algonquin in Algonquin, IL.

I strongly encourage the service providers attending the stand down to fulfill their obligations to the veteran community by doing what they're charged do.

Veterans who are newly discharged, displaced, disabled, homeless or unemployed are the focus of the Stand Down for Veterans, which will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on March 31 through April 1, 2008 at YMCA Camp Algonquin, 1889 Cary Road, Algonquin. U.S Department of Labor's, Patrick Winfrey, Illinois Representative Linda Chapa LaVia, Illinois Senator Pam Althoff and McHenry County board member, from District 3, Mary Donner will address the veterans at an assembly to take place at noon on Monday, March 31 in the camp's dining hall.

"The individuals attending our stand down, coming for assistance are truly heroes. Each and every one of us owes them our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, worldwide. The reasons that they have reached the point in need of assistance, varies as widely as your own individuality. The people coming to the stand down for assistance are not only recent veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, but are also veterans that reach as far back as the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the code talkers of WWII," said John Blanchard, executive director of National Association of Systems Administrators Education Corporation (NASA Education), the sponsor of the event.

He added that the organization is expecting to provide services to at least 150 veterans. As NASA Education motto states, "Through 'help and healing and delivering on their hope', these individuals want to rejoin the mainstream of our productive society. They were once the most loyal, dedicated, responsible and professional employees that the federal government has ever had and they need to get that back."

Services will include medical screenings and information about other VA services by North Chicago VA Medical Center, employment services by Jeff Johnson, Andrew Michnowski and Reynaldo Infante of Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS)/Department of Labor through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), referrals for housing assistance and other services by Mike Iwanicki and Cheryl Kirsch of the McHenry County Veterans Assistance Commission and John Carr of the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission, legal counseling by Attorney Jeffrey Antonelli and Prairie State Legal Services, referrals for dental services by local dentists and the Illinois Foundation for Dentistry for the Handicapped, and referrals for eye care services by Northwest Eye Care of Algonquin. Phyllis Taylor Smith and Gail Pike of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will verify military status and eligibility for services as well as claims processing; these ladies can and will make things happen.

Veterans will be able to register for medical care at North Chicago VA Medical Center and Hines VA Medical Center at the Stand Down. Pat O'Dea Evans, COO from Paxem, Inc. of Cary, IL will be in attendance. Pat is a veteran and nurse who is trained to take applications for VA benefits.

Veteran service officers from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and representatives of AMVETS, the VFW and various other veterans organizations will assist veterans in applying for VA disability claims and other VA benefits, state health insurance, and DD214s. Information about community services for homeless and low-income individuals will be provided by Susan Giannone, the constituent services advocate from Congresswoman Melissa Bean's Office, and Cheryl Schmid, the constituent services advocate from Congressman Donald Manzullo's Office. Scott Ottesen of The Vet Center will meet with veterans and distribute information about services. Also participating as a service provider will be Tammy Tope of TLS New Horizons, a transitional living facility for veterans in Hebron, and Derek Jeske of Volunteers of America of Illinois, Chicago.

NASA Education will accept applications for participation in Project Fresh Start, its comprehensive vocational rehabilitation and community reintegration program for U.S. veterans who are displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition. NASA Education will also accept applications for its new 32-bed transitional housing facility for homeless veterans. Local employers Liberating Solutions and Vet-Tek will be on-site to offer employment opportunities. NASA Education's own caseworker and substance abuse counselor will be performing intake evaluations for attendees.

"The individuals that come to the Stand Down are in need of a safe place to be, vocational reintegration training and an opportunity to be back on track where they should be, and that's exactly what we provide through our main program Project Fresh Start. Employers that wish to have dedicated, English speaking trainees that will show up to work and have a burning desire for a new career should strongly consider Project Fresh Start participants," said Blanchard. "I strongly encourage the service providers attending the stand down to fulfill their obligations to the veteran community by doing what they're charged do."

Veterans will also receive a number of amenities at the Stand Down, including free haircuts by SportClips Haircuts and Bladez Salon. Healing touch therapy and therapeutic massages will be available for all participants and through the careful coordination of Peggy Dickson, the stylists and therapists will be pleasantly ready to pamper our nation's heroes. Meals and the use of shower facilities will be provided on both days, and overnight shelter will be provided on March 31, 2008. Individuals and organizations from the community have donated new and gently used clothing and shoes, new underwear and socks, and toiletries.

Partial funding over the past two years, for the Stand Down has been provided through grants from the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS)/U.S. Department of Labor, and the HelpAmerica Foundation. Donations are still needed in the form of cash, new and gently used clothes for men and women, baked goods or other desserts, toiletries, fast food gift certificates in small denominations and gift cards from supermarkets.

Transportation will be provided to the Stand Down for the veterans from various pick-up points throughout the community.

Please phone NASA Education at 866-338-4968 toll-free for more information about the Stand Down, pick-up points, volunteering and making donations. Or you may send an email to Amy Johnson at Amy_Johnson@nasaeducation.org. The NASA Education website is http://www.nasaeducation.org.

NASA Education is a Crystal Lake-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive vocational rehabilitation and community reintegration services for U.S. veterans who are displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition.

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