MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This holiday season, with your help, we’re trying to make the season brighter for homeless veterans.

We’re partnering with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, known as MACV.

Last year, more than 5,000 veterans received services from MACV. Thursday morning, WCCO-TV joined the Minnesota Twins in hosting hundreds of veterans for a special event at Target Field.

Our holiday meal is a twist on MACV’s traditional StandDowns. The event helps provide holiday cheer, and much-needed resources for Minnesota’s veterans and their families.

This stand down is where military veterans, many who are homeless are welcomed with open arms.

“The first thing I did was get a haircut and a shave, that was what’s needed,” said Army veteran James Lewis.

Haircuts were just the start. Veterans received medical care from doctors, dentist were on site and attorneys were around to give legal advice.

“Sometimes you feel like nobody’s there, but now they are doing so much to help us maybe get back up on our feet again, so I am really thankful that they are there helping us,” Hines said. “I don’t feel left out in the cold, basically.”

The VFW and American Legion were on hand to connect veterans to the resources they have earned for their service. Some organizations passed out clothes, shoes and blankets. Others connected veterans with jobs or housing.

Navy veteran Vicki Hines says seeing all the people who are there to help makes her realize her struggle is not her’s alone to fight.

“I just started crying because I just thought, ‘Wow, I’m not invisible,’” Hines said.

Most veterans find it hard to ask for help but during a stand down those with resources ask them what they need to improve their lives. For many veterans, just getting together with one another, for a good meal, is what they need to keep going.

“That probably the most stimulating and integral part for us to be able to come to a place where we can be with people who understand and speak our language,” Lewis said.

The Minnesota Twins are proud to have many programs that honor the many active and veteran members of our armed services who reside in Twins Territory. Click here for more information.

For the last few weeks, many of you have sent some of these beautiful hand-crafted and military-themed ornaments to fill our WCCO community tree.

Next week, we’ll present the tree to a transitional home for female veterans. Women who served are the largest growing segment of our nation’s homeless veteran population. So this year MACV has put an extra emphasis on helping that group.

Reg Chapman

  1. Jerry Stenstadvold says:

    Thank you so very much for your recognition of our Veterans StandDown. As one of over 2,500 volunteers at the VA Med Center, your service to those who served is appreciated.