News & Features

Libby Event Offers Veterans Free Services, Connections with Resources

“Stand Down” is one of the largest events of its kind in the country

The Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry will hold its 19th annual Libby Stand Down on Oct. 6-7, an event that provides veterans opportunities to obtain free services and connect with a wide range of veteran and community resources.

The Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization in Evergreen dedicated to “providing a helping hand up to homeless, low-income and at risk veterans and their families.” Allen W. Erickson founded the food pantry in 2002, two years after he held the first Stand Down.

Noting that Montana has one of the highest per-capita populations of veterans in the U.S., the food pantry says the annual Libby event is “a collaborative community outreach which has allowed us to proffer assistance to as many as 2,500 veterans in a single weekend.” It’s one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the nation.

“While many veterans make Stand Down an annual event, each year we see many new faces and educate hundreds of veterans who do not realize they are entitled to services or benefits,” the organization says on its website.

Admission is free for veterans and their families. The Stand Down is held at Asa Wood Elementary School, 700 Idaho St. in Libby, and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 7, or “while supplies last.”

Free offerings include haircuts, surplus military clothing, food boxes, access to a staffed medical bus, hot meals and flu shots.

Organizations will be on hand to provide services and resources related to: benefits, identification cards, banking, transportation, aging, housing, counseling, suicide prevention, energy, services and referrals, legal and insurance.

Also onsite will be representatives from U.S. senator offices, a service officer for the VA Clinic and a physical health provider, as well as employment counseling, veterans service organizations and the Flathead Spay and Neuter Clinic.

Veterans are asked to bring their DD214 Discharge VA card or Military ID. A civilian clothing give away — open to the public — will be located in the parking lot.

The organization says on its website that “stand down” is “a military term used to define a period of time when combat troops are allowed to stand down from the rigors of constant alert status and the hardships of battle to enter a safe zone where they can eat, rest and receive medical treatment.”

“We believe the term is a fitting description that defines our mission to extend a helping hand up to veterans,” the food pantry states.

For more information, visit www.veteransfoodpantry.org or call the food pantry at (406) 756-7304.