16th annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down returns to GCSC

A large group of people showed up for veterans in need today, taking part in the stand-down event at Gulf Coast State College.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:07 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Gulf Coast State College welcomed special guests onto its campus Friday.

“This is actually my second time going to this event,” homeless veteran Angel Shackleford said. “This event is very important for myself because I am a homeless veteran. I’ve been a homeless veteran for like two years straight.”

CareerSource Gulf Coast and several other organizations came together for the 16th annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down. It serves as a hub of support for homeless veterans and other veterans in need.

“It helps out a lot from the dental to eye vision, stuff like that,” veteran Darerick Polite said. “It’s a good place to come get help for small things, big things. Homelessness, all kinds of stuff. So, it’s a good place to come to.”

Active-duty service members also came out to provide a helping hand.

“Being in active duty for 23 years, it means so much to see the community take such good care of its veterans, especially homeless veterans,” Justin Irwin, Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Station of Panama City, said. “Having all this stuff available for them is just amazing to me.”

Veterans could receive free food, toiletries, housing referrals, and other services.

Some veterans said showing support can mean the biggest difference in their lives.

“This event is so important to me because I don’t want to be homeless and left out,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford also said she wants her own place in the near future. She credits the Homeless Veterans Stand Down and the Evershouse in Panama City for their support.

Bayway also provided free transportation to veterans who attended the event.