Friday, November 20, 2015

Parade #139

"But many who are first will be last, and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:30

Just seven days have passed since the nation celebrated those who have fought to defend our freedom and the values we, as Americans, cherish. I was excited to participate with the Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas (HVSD) and march with a large contingency of veterans who are homeless on our city streets. 

For the past two months, the ministry's Military Initiative (Battle-Buddy Info) has been coordinating  Community Partners and resources for the "Stand Down" week honoring veterans at the Veterans Resource Center. Although I had heard the term "stand down" bantered about among my veteran friends, I thought since I was actually involved in orchestrating some of the events, I'd better be clear on what it means in the military culture. 

The "Stand Down" order, I was told, means stop everything you are doing and do what the Commanding Officer tells you to attend to immediately and without question. 

"A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders." 2 Timothy 2:4 The Message

"Stand Down" events are typically held by Veterans' organizations around Veterans Day to stop normally scheduled programs to allow for tribute and special services to be provided. This year the HVSD expanded the time of honor to be nine days! This included marching in one of the nation's largest Veterans Day parades in hopes of raising awareness on the issue of homelessness among our nation's warriors. 

We arrived and were directed to our spot: #139. At the time we didn't know what that meant. The parking lot where all the high school marching bands, floats and various VFW groups were assembling was vast and filling up slowly. 

We saw local and national groups we're associated with, and shared our excitement about being in the parade. One friend, an active duty Naval Officer asked who we were marching with, wondering why we weren't with their organization on the other side of the parking lot. My associate shared we were there with HVSD. "Homeless veterans?" He said quizzically. "Where are veterans homeless?" We then pointed out the two huge armored transport vehicles filled with the veterans we had been serving during"But many who are first will be last, and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:30

Just seven days have passed since the nation celebrated those who have fought to defend our freedom and the values we, as Americans, cherish. I was excited to participate with the Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas (HVSD) and march with a large contingency of veterans who are homeless on our city streets. 

For the past two months, the ministry's Military Initiative (Battle-Buddy Info) has been coordinating  Community Partners and resources for the "Stand Down" week honoring veterans at the Veterans Resource Center. Although I had heard the term "stand down" bantered about among my veteran friends, I thought since I was actually involved in orchestrating some of the events, I'd better be clear on what it means in the military culture. 

The "Stand Down" order, I was told, means stop everything you are doing and do what the Commanding Officer tells you to attend to immediately and without question. 

"A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders." 2 Timothy 2:4 The Message

"Stand Down" events are typically held by Veterans' organizations around Veterans Day to stop normally scheduled programs to allow for tribute and special services to be provided. This year the HVSD expanded the time of honor to be nine days! This included marching in one of the nation's largest Veterans Day parades in hopes of raising awareness on the issue of homelessness among our nation's warriors. 

We arrived and were directed to our spot: #139. At the time we didn't know what that meant. The parking lot where all the high school marching bands, floats and various VFW groups were assembling was vast and filling up slowly. 

We saw local and national groups we're associated with, and shared our excitement about being in the parade. One friend, an active duty Naval Officer asked who we were marching with, wondering why we weren't with their organization on the other side of the parking lot. My associate shared we were there with HVSD. "Homeless veterans?" He said quizzically. "Where are veterans homeless?" We then pointed out the two huge armored transport vehicles filled with the veterans we had been serving during the week, as well as the twenty or so marching and carrying the banner stating the name of the organization: Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas. 

He was shocked. He made thoughtful comments on how he was not aware of the needs in our own community, as well as committing to take action to help.   
Rain had been predicted all week, but the weather was with us and the sun was shining brightly down on the streets of Dallas. The start of the parade was at 11:11. We had been there since 8:30 am.  Our convoy consisting of 20 marchers, 1 Pickup Truck (courtesy of Semper Fi Heating and Air) and 2 armored transport vehicles carrying more than 30 additional homeless or under-served veterans left the staging area at 1:00

Parade #139 was two spots away from dead last. 

By the time we were slowly moving through the streets, many of the bystanders had already left. The temporary grandstands in front of City Hall (where the parade concluded) were almost empty. Not many people had their awareness raised about the issue we were there for, but we weren't all that surprised. 

I'm guilty of turning my head away from "those people" who stand on the street corners holding makeshift signs to make me aware of their plight. "Homeless, please help." Even though I have committed my life to serving, when it comes to individuals approaching me in the safety and comfort of my car (cool in the summer, warm in the winter), I look away. I'm not sure if it's discomfort, fear or shame. But I'm working on it. 

As a ministry, one way we are working on "it," is officing at the Veterans Resource Center and partnering with HVSD to locate resources and non-profits in the community that offer assistance to veterans in crisis. It has been challenging but one of the most rewarding things we've ever done!

The next challenge comes December 19th, when we will once again coordinate Veteran Services for the Operation Care International Christmas event. Last year we served over 700 veterans (amidst a crowd of 15,000)! 

After last week, hearing the stories and challenges faced by those who have served our country I can't say, "we desperately need your help." I met far too many desperate VETERAN men AND women, hungry and homeless. 

But I will not hesitate to say WE NEED YOUR HELP to help them!

"Not that I seek the gift, but I seek what may be credited to your account." Philippians 4:17

TODAY: 
Make a financial contribution to the ministry, it ALL counts*!
To donate online visit our website: www.sunshineafterrain.org

By mail:
Sunshine After Rain Ministries
10024 Regal Park Lane
Suite 217
Dallas TX 75230


Pray for the ministry and those working to "serve those who served." To quote Oswald Chambers, "Prayer IS the work."

If you are in the Dallas Fort Worth area, sign up to be one of our Volunteer Army team members on the Operation Care International website. www.operationcareinternational.org 
Select "Adopt a Vet" under the Volunteer Sign Up tab. 

Take action! STAND DOWN 

We might have been one of the last (and the least) in the Veterans Day Parade, but He promises us a "Front and Center" position of honor when He returns.

Serving those who Served
Charlynn


*Sunshine After Rain Ministry is a 501c3 organization. All donations are considered tax deductible by the Internal Revenue Service