Keesler couple helps out local homeless vets

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
A Keesler couple is playing a huge role in the Homeless Veteran Stand Down that is scheduled to take place Oct.16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hiller Park in Biloxi.

The Stand Down is a Veterans Affairs cooperative event that teams with local organizations and other community resources to provide service and information to homeless Veterans and families of homeless Veterans.

Master Sgt. Christopher Re, 602nd Training Group (Provision) plans and analysis superintendent, and his wife Tech. Sgt. Christina Re, 81st Medical Group internal medicine clinic flight chief, have taken a major part in helping plan the event. This is the third year the duo have helped with the event.

Homeless veterans will not only be able get a hot meal, but also a medical screening, VA benefits assistance, a haircut, flu shots, hygiene products, clothing and blankets.

The Stand Down is not just a VA program; local motorcycle clubs and organizations, like the Air Force Sergeants Association, Airman's Council and other private organizations on base help tremendously with the event, said Christopher.

"Each year the Stand Down keeps getting bigger," said Christina. "We incorporated mental health this year," explained Christina. "So there is a place they can go and talk to somebody."

"Last year we had about 750 people show up," explained Christopher. "We are expecting even more this time. This year, vets will also be bussed from the VA in Mobile, Alabama."

The supplies and services the veterans receive are important, but showing compassion is vital to the Re's.

"We want to show them that they are not forgotten about," said Christina. "We wouldn't be here without them. We want to show that Keesler does care about vets."

For those that want to come out, Christina said the lesson you get is something you will never gain from books.

"You can't even make up these stories," she said. "No history books could ever give you the stories you gain from these vets. And it just makes you realize, 'wow,' it is not that bad. You learn so much just by listening to them and seeing where they came from and what they did in the military."

Helping with the program for the last two years has created many memorable experiences, but the instance that sticks out to Christina is one she experienced in her first year working with the project.

"There was this one man who came through and you can just see something about him," she remembered. "You just see him taking stuff. You are looking at him, and he is not rushing. But he looks up at you and asked, 'Is it okay if I take one of these?' I said, 'Well sure this is what we are here for.' He was very appreciative of what we had, but he just took what he needed and he felt like he was being too greedy because I asked him what else he wanted and he said, 'I don't know what I can get because I don't want to look like I am greedy.'"

After she finished helping the veteran, his words of gratitude stuck with her.

"I think it was his thank you and how sincere he was and realizing he is getting what he needs," she added. "As he looked at all of his stuff he had acquired, he said, 'It will be better than lying on the ground.'"

Though the event lasts only five hours, the amount of people helped is enormous.

"At the end of it, when everything is gone, you realize that it was a lot of people," Christopher said. "I can't believe that there are that many homeless vets. We don't see the effects of how many homeless vets there are on the Coast. We encourage everyone to come out and help them."

"It can't happen with just the two of us," added Christina.

For more information about the Stand Down or to volunteer or donate, contact Tech. Sgt. Christina Re at 228-376-3645 or Master Sgt. Re at 228-376-3234.

The Re's are still accepting the following donations. Donations must be turned in by Sept. 17.

· Hygiene products
· Soap
· Toothpaste
· Hair brush
· Hair spray
· Q-tips
· First aid items
· Blankets
· Laundry soap
· Shampoo
· Toothbrush
· Combs
· Deodorant
· Hair gel
· Band aids
· Non-perishable food
· Dog food
· Hand sanitizer
· Clothing (Shirts, pants, new underwear, jackets)