Over Memorial Day weekend, the city of Miami put the phrase “thank you for your service” into action.
The Southern Florida city gathered hundreds of volunteers together in an effort to offer homeless service members a wealth of services during Operation Stand Down. The three-day event, which had 100 organizations participating (such as the City of Miami Veterans Services Department and the Florida Veterans Foundation), helped more than 200 veterans.
In a tent city on the property of an American Legion post, volunteers distributed clothing and performed medical and dental exams. Miami-Dade Judge Steve Leifman was on hand, running a court to resolve any outstanding minor infractions on the homeless vets’ records, such as petty theft or traffic violations. Showers, hot meals, and haircuts were also provided; homeless vets stayed on cots housed in the tends during the weekend.
Veteran Arthur Woods told Natalie Zea of CBS Miami, “It’s helping me out considerably as far as me getting my act together and a lot of things I don’t have due to the fact that I’m homeless…I need dental. I need some eyeglasses. I mostly need a place to stay and I need some income.”
The nonprofit Operation Sacred Trust even provided two of the homeless veterans with their own homes. Coast Guard veteran Gregory Lewis, one of the recipients, said he was “elated.”
“To open that door is gonna be great because it’s going to open other doors. I have two kids and four grandkids and they’ll be able to visit me. I’ll have a stable environment.”
MORE: Giving Homeless Vets A Helping Hand–And A New Uniform