Military News

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Helpful Airmen aid homeless vets

by Master Sgt. Carl Clegg
108th Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Members of the 108th Medical Group, New Jersey Air National Guard, provided blood pressure checks to homeless veterans during the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Stand Down Day at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 10.

The event allows the veterans to get much needed care and services from a wide array of state agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Members of the 108th Medical Group have been providing care at stand down days for more than 10 years and provided the blood pressure checks as a means to talk with the veterans about their overall health and wellness.

1st Lt. Sara Kucharski, a registered nurse with the 108th MG, has participated in the Stand Down for the past three years.

"We service [the veterans] doing blood pressure checks and we ask them about their health history," said Kucharski. "We are more of a counselor than a provider of medical services."

This year's participation may have been life saving for one veteran Kuharski encountered. The veteran had not seen a medical provider in a few years and his blood pressure was extremely high. He was transported to the emergency room at the nearby Veterans Administration hospital for monitoring and continued care, and promised Kuharski that he would use the incident as a wakeup call and see a doctor more frequently.

Kuharski noted the amount of care being provided to the veterans and, in turn, the veterans' appreciation.

"I'm homeless right now," said Blaise Jones, a U.S. Navy veteran from Newark. "I'm here to see what kind of help they can offer."

Airmen took the opportunity to educate many veterans like Jones about the risks of high blood pressure, including stroke and heart attack, and how to combat those risks with diet and exercise.

The day also included a hot lunch provided to the hundreds of veteran attendees by soldiers from the New Jersey National Guard's 2nd of the 113th Infantry.

Stand down is a military term referring to exhausted combat units that were removed from the battlefront to a place of security and safety for rest and recovery. Today, stand downs are grass roots, community-based intervention program to help veterans' battle life on the streets.

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