Saturday, April 13, 2024

North Idaho Stand Down for veterans May 6

Staff Reporter | April 19, 2023 1:00 AM

The annual North Idaho Veterans Stand Down, an event offering support to veterans and service members, will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 6 in the Christianson Gymnasium at North Idaho College.

The veterans resource fair, fundraiser and food drive was canceled during COVID-19, but came back strong last year when between 300 and 500 veterans were given assistance in gratitude for their service, plus everyone who comes will receive a free breakfast and lunch.

“The Stand Down offers an excellent opportunity to help veterans connect with organizations which provide the services needed to overcome the difficult challenges faced every day,” said Andrea Fulks, food distribution chair. “The goal of the program is to identify veterans needing service and to raise enough funds to help serve them throughout the year.”

At this year’s event, veterans can receive medical assistance, counseling, legal advice, advocacy, employment opportunities, veterinary care, bike repairs, haircuts or dental services — plus a free bag of groceries.

The North Idaho Veterans Stand Down became an independent nonprofit in 2019, separating from its parent partner, St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho.

“It’s changed, but not really,” said Debbi Nadrchal, Stand Down president. “It’s like a resource fair for veterans. But now, even though we have that event for one day a year, we’re here all year round.”

The organization now dedicates resources to veterans throughout the year for things like car repairs, winter heating bills, medical bills or rental assistance.

“A lot of these guys don’t have the means,” said Bob Shaw, a Stand Down board member and Vietnam vet. “They have a medical bill come up or something like that, then something else has to go by the wayside.”

Since January 2022, North Idaho Veterans Stand Down, Inc. has donated more than $19,000 to help veterans with unmet needs in rent, housing, utility payments, medical bills, dental services or food.

“It’s also a healing process,” Shaw said. “The process of emotionally healing those coming back from Vietnam and the Gulf wars. They get to talk to vets that have gone through that and help each other.”

Shaw remembers returning from Vietnam and facing the painful rejection from people who didn’t support the war, and that drove him to volunteer. He was also the one who encouraged his daughter, Nadrchal, to volunteer.

"It’s gratifying to be able to help those veterans that helped us as a country," Nadrchal said. "The stories you hear out there, especially from older gentlemen, it’s heartwarming and it’s gratifying to help them.”

The Stand Down nonprofit is funded by donations and sponsorships, and it is entirely staffed by volunteers. The only expenses are a storage unit for surplus items or food and a post office box. Everything else in the coffers goes to helping veterans, Shaw said.

“We are in desperate need of food donations for our annual upcoming event,” Fulks said. “We are looking for nonperishable items, such as canned food, boxed food, cases of water, toiletry items, paper products, baby food and diapers and even dog and cat food.”

To donate or get involved, contact the Stand Down at 208-964-2819 or to donate or learn more. Or send mail to 212 W. Ironwood Drive #D248, Coeur d’Alene ID 83814.