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NEWS | Nov. 10, 2014

NNPTC Sailors stand down for homelessness

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Pastrick NNPTC Public Affairs

Sailors stationed at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command volunteered their time at the 15th Annual Stand Down for Homelessness Oct. 31, 2014, at the Danny Jones Recreation Complex in North Charleston S.C.

The event offered medical and dental screenings and assistance, clothing, food and haircuts, as well as job assistance and legal counseling for hundreds of homeless persons in the greater Charleston area.

"Events like these really help raise awareness in the community while also giving us an opportunity to help those in need," said Dr. Hugh Myrick, Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health and co-chair of the Stand Down Committee with the Department of Veterans Affairs.  "It brings attention to a cause that people may not even know exists in their own back yard."

In addition to engaging NNPTC students with the local community, the event also served as an opportunity for Sailors to partner with the community and give back to those who served before them.

"It's so important to get involved because the majority of the people in need of help are veterans who have fallen on hard times," said Petty Officer 1st Class Owen Fitzgerald, NNPTC staff member and volunteer coordinator for the event. "Wherever the students are in the program [at NNPTC], volunteering at these events is a great way to spend their free time, while also helping their fellow service members."

"We're all coming together; civilians and military, but we're all working for the same goal," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesse Lynch, student at NNPTC. "It's nice to see that barrier come down, and to be part of it is even better."

One position filled by NNPTC Sailors was the role of personal shopper. After determining their specific needs, volunteers escorted homeless individuals to the various stations offering free goods and services. Some Sailors even got the chance to assist former service members.

"I got to speak with two homeless World War II veterans as they were checking in," said Lynch. "It's incredible; the things they've seen and the stories they have are really indescribable."

"It's a real honor to serve the people I looked up to growing up," said Seaman Luis Diaz, NNPTC student. "Being able to help civilians and military members was a great experience. It's great to know you're making a difference in their lives.

For more information about volunteering with the VA, contact your command Chaplain's office or contact them directly by visiting their website at http://www.charleston.va.gov