Airmen reach out to vets

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Charles
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office
During these hard times in the world one word has been able to motivate people to do extraordinary things; hope. Hope is a word that has moved the people in our country to overcome personal bias and fear to do what is right. So when the Airmen from Team Nellis and Creech heard about the many homeless veterans who lost hope in ever getting a hot meal or a roof over their head, they came together to help. 

Every year Airmen and their families from Team Nellis and Creech participate in the Homeless Veterans Stand Down at the Redeemer Lutheran Church. The stand down is a two-day event to help provide food, shelter, entertainment and medical care to homeless veterans throughout the Las Vegas area. Team Nellis and Creech play a major role in the success of every aspect of the event, said Shalimar Cabrera, the U.S. Veterans head chairman. 

Nellis' 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, 820th Red Horse Squadron and the 555th Reserve Red Horse Squadron worked in a joint effort to set up the groundwork for the event. Together these squadrons set up air conditioned tents, a 40 foot by 60 foot stage for entertainment purposes. They also set up tables, chairs and a canopy, which were provided by the Nellis Outdoor Recreation and provided power for the Miles for Smiles Dental Unit. Miles for Smiles is a mobile dental unit which helps to delivers dental care to any veteran or children who are unable to locate or get to a dentist. 

"This was my first year going," said Master Sgt. Gerald Huffman, the 99th CES first sergeant. "It felt great to help serve and appreciate those who have served before us. Our engineers at Nellis truly exemplify what all Airmen in the Air Force should be." 

For the first time in the six year history of the event, a place to shower was provided. Nellis' engineers were able to set up a temporary tent fully equipped with working showerheads to allow veterans to take hot showers.
Team Nellis and Creech also played a role in making sure all the needs of the veterans were taken care of. 

More than 150 Airmen and their families volunteered at the event and helped more than 400 veterans. The volunteers which were organized by Karen Lewis, AmeriCorps program director, helped by serving food, organizing activities, providing entertainment and helping with job searches for these homeless veterans. 

"Our volunteers needed little guidance," Ms. Lewis said. Once they got here, they were ready to do whatever we needed of them." 

"Nobody who serves our country with as much bravery as these vets have should have to stay on the streets," sergeant Huffman said. "Even if we gave help to one person it would be worthwhile. It's always worthwhile to give hope to somebody who has lost it. Because without hope; what do you have?"