Libby Stand Down to Honor Veterans for 21st Time

Annual event provides free services, medical evaluations, food, clothing and supplies to all veterans

By Skye Lucas
Allen W. Erickson, Sr., founder of the North West Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry, is pictured in his office in 2019. Beacon File Photo

The North West Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry will hold its 21st Libby Stand Down on Oct. 9-10, an annual event that provides veterans an opportunity to obtain free services and engage with veteran and community resources.

Haircuts, food boxes, surplus military clothing and refreshments will be available to all former military personnel. A medical bus provided by the VA clinic will offer free examinations, consultations with physical and mental health providers and COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

Allen Erickson, Sr., president and founder of North West Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry, launched the two-day annual event two decades ago to help homeless, low-income and at-risk veterans and their families.

After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1957 to 1963, Erickson utilized numerous stand downs in Eastern Washington. Unable to locate any similar resources in Northwest Montana, Erickson hosted the first stand down in 2000 and then opened the food pantry in 2002 after realizing many veterans’ needs were not being met in only two days of the year.

Cinnamon Davis-Hall, Erickson’s daughter, has volunteered at the Libby Stand Down all 20 years. For Davis-Hall, the stand down feels like a big family reunion, among Ericksons and veterans alike.

“The best part is the whole camaraderie,” she said. “Folks from nearby and far like Browning, Eureka, Washington, Idaho and Oregon grab their lunch, which is served all day, and get to know one another.”

The VA and Lincoln County public health officials canceled the event last year due to COVID-19. This year’s event will have social distancing precautions in place.

The event’s name originates from the military phrase “stand down,” which is when both fighting units locate a temporary cessation to replenish with meals and other necessities. The Libby Stand Down occurs in the beginning of October each year to help supply homeless veterans for the forthcoming winter.

 Admission is free for everyone. Veterans must bring their DD214, discharge VA card or military ID.

Volunteers are still needed and can register at the North West Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry at 1349 U.S. Hwy 2 E. in Evergreen. For more information, call the food pantry at (406) 756-7304.

The stand down is located at the Montana Army National Guard, 1004 Treasurer Ave. in Libby. The opening ceremony promptly begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, and the event goes until 4 p.m. The event then continues on Sunday, Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or while supplies last.

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