Brevard County Candidate Ken Rhoden Supports 2012 Veteran Stand Down Event

By: Ken Rhoden (original article on

It was an honor to volunteer yesterday, Friday, March 30, at the National Guard Armory in Cocoa, Florida as preparations for the “17th Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down” got underway. The trucks pulled in and large shipping containers mounted on pallets were offloaded one after another. Inside these containers were supplies donated and included things like backpacks, rucksacks, pants, jackets, sleeping bags, underclothing, socks, shoes, and more.

There were more than 40 volunteers working on getting all the containers unpacked and the various items folded, stacked, and organized for the event today (Saturday, March 31, 2012). I was able to work on several different stations including one where we unloaded, folded, and stacked what I estimate as over 250 rucksacks.

While as a member of the Military Affairs Council through the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce I’m able to participate in events and attend meetings regularly, this particular volunteer effort was a humbling experience. “The Vietnam and All-Veterans” group estimates that over 30% of the homeless people in this county are Veterans and according to a 2011 report prepared by the Florida Department of Children and Families Office on Homelessness there were more than 1,800 homeless people in Brevard and over 800 in Seminole.

“Created in 2001, the Office on Homelessness was established as a central point of contact within state government on home-less-ness. The Office coordinates the services of the various state agencies and programs to serve individuals or families who are homeless, or are facing homelessness. Office staff work in conjunction with the 17-member [group]to develop state policy. It also manages targeted state grants to support the implementation of local homeless service continuum of care plans. The Office is responsible for coordinating resources and programs across all levels of government, and with private providers that serve the homeless. It also manages targeted state grants to support the implementation of local… service continuum of care plans.” quoted on March 31, 2012 from: www-dcf-state-fl-us/programs/homelessness

The report from 2011 is filled with facts and data. The Call to Action section has this paragraph titled, “Florida Is In Crisis”:

“The high levels of unemployment and the foreclosures of hundreds of thousands of homes and apartments has created an epidemic of homelessness. The scope of the problem is worsening by the day. It is an epidemic that, given the present economic climate, is likely to continue to spread. Without stable income and affordable housing, our families, friends and neighbors will not be able to remain in their homes. They will be forced to temporarily stay with family and friends, and ultimately will end up in shelters or on the streets.” quoted from the 2011 Report

Keep this group in mind throughout the next year. Gifts of money (even $5 helps!) or new & gently used boots and sneakers make a difference. For more information contact the veteran’s council in your area or call the Veteran Memorial Center: 321-453-1776.

View Videos from the Stand Down Preparation Day: