Joseph Ruthkosky of Scranton in the past received help from a veterans assistance program. On Saturday, he gave back to it.
Mr. Ruthkosky, 61, an Army veteran who served from 1974 to 1982, performed on guitar Saturday at the Veterans Stand Down event at the Community Intervention Center on Sixth Avenue in Scranton.
Organized by several groups, including Community Hope, Hope for Veterans and the Veterans Resource Coalition, the event primarily aims to help homeless veterans. But it also assists needy or disabled veterans, striving to match them with available services.
“A Veterans Stand Down is held to assist needy and homeless veterans, to have clothing, food and access to services they otherwise might not have,” said Sandi Opshinsky of the Veterans Resource Coalition.
Hot meals, shelter, clothing, drug and alcohol treatment services, barbers, benefits and claims assistance, and employment services were available.
A similar event several months ago served 40 veterans. Saturday’s offering had about 40 veterans during the first half of the four-hour event, organizers said.
Nearly three-dozen agencies and institutions participate, said Joan Wojdak of the Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency.
Gary Johnson, 68, of Springville Twp., Susquehanna County, a veteran, attended to promote the new Equines for Freedom program, which provides horse-assisted treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the campus of Marley’s Mission in Newton Twp. Equines for Freedom began there in November. A grim nationwide statistic of 22 veteran suicides a day motivates Mr. Johnson to try to make a difference.
Mr. Ruthkosky, who is not homeless but is disabled, said the Veterans Stand Down program works.
“It’s a good thing,” he said. “It really is out to help homeless veterans, and veterans alike, to see what programs the VA (Veterans Affairs) has for them. They reach out and help save people’s lives.”
As Stand Downs took place across the US, one county even expunged some veterans’ records of petty crimes.
USMC Life reporter contributed to the article.
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