Yale School of Nursing, Yale University's Graduate Nursing Programs

YSN Students Volunteer to Help Vets in Need

September 1, 2009

YSN students and faculty at the State Veterans' Home.

Four YSN faculty and 34 students volunteered for Stand Down on September 18, a yearly event providing services for needy veterans. Begun in 1992, Stand Down is a one-day program sponsored by the State of Connecticut to provide services for homeless and needy veterans, transported from around the state to the State Veterans' Home in Rocky Hill. YSN was one of 40 organizations assembled there.

In addition to the health services provided by YSN students and faculty, more than 1200 veterans received services such as job, educational, and financial counseling, legal assistance, and housing referrals. They were also given haircuts, a hot meal, and new clothing.

YSN has participated since 2006, with an increasing role each year since. This year's cadre of YSN faculty and Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) students packed onto a bus to travel the 30 miles to the event. YSN Assistant Professor Linda Pellico said she heard from 68 volunteers, but only half could fit on the shuttle.

YSN volunteers.

YSN students and faculty provided health education and screened for blood pressure, diabetes, tuberculosis, and respiratory health. Other health care workers provided dental and vision exams.

"Stand Down" is a term used during the Vietnam War for a safe area that gave battle-weary soldiers a place to relax and attend to personal needs such as showers, medical care, and a warm meal.

Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell was also in attendance and said, "We must all work together to repay the debt we owe our veterans - and especially to continue to combat the problems of homelessness among veterans." According to stamfordplus.com, an estimated 200,000 U.S. veterans are homeless, accounting for 25-30 percent of the nation's total homeless population. The Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs is the largest provider of direct services to homeless veterans in the state, providing residency to a daily average of almost 400 veterans.