Homeless veterans get a 'hand up' from Arizona StandDown

PHOENIX - It has been eight years since Joe Labuda's army service in the Gulf came to an end. 

"Asking for help...I have a real hard time doing it," Labuda says. "Pride kills and I hope they put that on my tombstone.

The years since and even now he is struggling, with life after war.

Labuda took his place in line Friday at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum seeking out the help that he never thought he would need. The Arizona StandDown is a three-day event that helps get services to homeless vets and vets like Labuda who are at-risk.

"When you come back into society you have to readjust," Labuda said. "I still haven't totally forgiven myself for some of the things that I have done. People will tell you in religious ways to ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven. It isn't that easy."

Labuda saw combat in both the Gulf Wars and the war in Kosovo. He is now looking for some assistance for post traumatic stress and also seeking out some legal advice.

StandDown is a military term that refers to a brief period of time for a solider to leave an active combat area, to rest and regain strength before returning to battle.

The event's goals are to increase the community's awareness of the plight of the homeless American veteran.

A variety of social service providers are brought together to advise and assist veterans on reintegrating back into our communities via housing and support services. The event includes: a robust Municipal and Superior Court System, full service Motor Vehicle Division office on-site, Social Security Administration office, a myriad of services housing programs, medical clinic, and other wellness services including acupuncture and massage.

The event runs through Sunday morning.

The Veteran's Memorial Coliseum is located at 1826 W. McDowell Road in Phoenix. Enter 17th Ave off McDowell Road and park north of the Coliseum. The event is being held in the North Exhibit Hall.
 

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