Operation Stand Down Rhode Island kicks off its 21st annual outreach weekend at noon on Friday, Sept. 19, at Diamond Hill Park, Route 114, Cumberland.
In an opening ceremony, the Walmart Foundation will present OSDRI with a $100,000 grant to assist OSDRI’s veteran employment and career services center.
The opening will also include the Fallen Man Ceremony by Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club and a MIA/POW remembrance, will conclude with remarks from Operation Stand Down president and founder Tony DeQuattro, as well as federal and state dignitaries.
The three-day outreach event sets up a military style encampment at Diamond Hill Park where many homeless and at-risk veterans come and stay the weekend while getting access to essential services to help them get their lives back on track. The annual event provides hundreds of veterans access to life essential services including health care, dental care, employment services, legal services, social welfare benefits, housing assistance, and clothing. The Rhode Island District Court and the R.I. Traffic Tribunal will be on hand to help veterans who have been convicted of misdemeanors expunge their records, manage court costs and handle traffic violations. The R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles will also be present on Saturday to assist veterans with license issues. Meals will be provided at no charge to the veterans by students from Johnson & Wales University.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island was founded 21 years ago by four Vietnam-era veterans in an effort to end homelessness in the veteran community. Initially, the nonprofit organization was limited to the annual outreach weekend, however since that time OSDRI has grown and now houses 50 veteran families year-round and assists thousands of others to find housing, employment, and access necessary benefits. They operate five housing units, including one for female veterans, throughout Rhode Island, and a sixth unit in Westerly is currently under construction.
Transportation for veterans will be provided on Friday and Saturday morning, from the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. on RIPTA; from the Salvation Army in Pawtucket at 9 a.m. via OSDRI van; from the Woonsocket Depot at 9 a.m. on OSDRI van; and from Newport on Friday only from the Salvation Army on Memorial Boulevard at 10:30 a.m.