On Friday, Sept. 30, GSU nursing students in levels 2-5, participated in the 11th annual Operation Stand Down held at the Salvation Army on Stoner Avenue in Shreveport.
Operation Stand Down is a collaborative project undertaken by agencies, businesses, and faith communities to address the issue of homelessness in the cities of Shreveport and Bossier. During the Vietnam War, “stand downs” gave troops an opportunity to rest, recover, take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy hot meals, receive medical and dental attention and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow troops.
This one-stop-shop arrangement of human services offers homeless clients a safe haven away from the streets where they can obtain a wide variety of assistance. Over 50 community business and over 100 volunteers participated in this spectacular event. Local barbers donated their time to cut hair for many of the homeless vets, clothing was handed out, ID cards, job opportunities were offered as well as a numerous amount of other perks. Statistics state that 80 percent of veterans in the Shreveport area are homeless. That’s shocking.
The homeless were not the only people who were able to participate. Due to the recent destruction of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced residents from the south were also able to take part in the activities. An estimated amount of 1,200 people was expected to take part in the stand down. As each homeless or displaced person registers with the Salvation Army, they will be able to be placed in a state database. This is one way the cities of Shreveport and Bossier can track and keep count of exactly how many homeless persons are in their particular city at any given time.
The GSU nursing students were allowed to show what they have been learning in the classroom and at their particular clinical sites by giving shots, taking blood pressures, doing physical assessments and other basic health care duties.
“I really enjoyed myself. While being here I realized that I am truly blessed.” said Brittney Washington a level 2 student. Ms. Vicki Anderson’s class (Level 2) was mainly responsible for manning the cafeteria area and the front entrance of the Salvation Army building. These students were responsible for directing participants as to where to go, accept meal tickets, serving food, and keeping the dining area clean. “I am so grateful that my students were able to participate in something of this magnitude. At the school of nursing we work really hard to let our students know the importance of giving back to the community. It not only strengthens you as an individual but makes our communities a better place to live,” said Anderson, Level 2 coordinator.
The GSU nursing students were also featured on the Shreveport evening news. “I come from a small town and I really didn’t know how bad homelessness really was. I am so grateful that I had a chance to participate in Operation Stand Down,” said Jocelyn Hayes.