Operation Stand Down Coat Drive
Every October, the Veteran's Assistance Commission conducts a Stand Down for homeless veterans and veterans in need. A Stand Down allows veterans in need to receive a medical and dental assessment, a haircut, and a referral for other counseling services, if needed. In addition, with winter approaching, the VAC has long strived toward the goal of providing each veteran in need with a winter coat. All of this is done in an attempt to restore the dignity of our veterans and their families who now find themselves in need.
Mike Peck, the Superintendent of the VAC had, in years past, asked the Vernon Hills Police Department to take the lead in coordinating the supply of winter coats for Lake County homeless veterans and veterans in need. At that time, this effort was relatively easy, as the number of veterans in need and therefore the number of coats needed was generally around 100 or so. We had an area resident, who during the "good economic times," wrote a check to cover the cost of the coats. As the economy worsened, the number of veterans in need has ballooned to nearly four times that, and the resident is no longer able to make the economic commitment that he had in the past to cover the cost of the coats. In 2010, Coach Wood of the Grayslake North High School football team graciously offered the coats that were collected by the North and Central football programs when North hosted the rivalry game, so we were able to meet our goal. Every item of clothing that was not selected by a veteran or their family member was turned over to a charity, and in return, a monetary donation was made to the VAC. The VAC then converted these donations into vouchers that were provided to veterans needing emergency assistance.
As the economy has worsened, more veterans have sought the assistance of the VAC, and more charitable organizations are needed to help address this issue. In 2015, the support that was received from Lake County high schools was unbelievable.
In October, the Vernon Hills Police Department delivered approximately 25 very large bags of coats to the Midwest Veterans Closet in North Chicago. In fact, it took three trips to get them all there. A majority of the coats were collected over the summer at the Motors on Milwaukee Cruise Night. The remaining were from several Lake County High Schools (including VHHS) as well as the drop-off box that was in our lobby. Remember, this was only the coats that VHPD delivered! That's a lot of coats! Here's a few pictures from the days of delivery. (Pictured with the employees at the Midwest Veterans Closet is Officer Dan Mead. In the bottom right picture Officer Mead is accompanied by (left to right) Marine Veteran John Slovinec, Midwest Veteran's Closet Manager Carrie Price and Army Veteran Gary Spicer.)
For More Information
For additional information on the Veteran's Stand Down, contact Superintendent Mike Peck of the Veteran's Assistance Commimission, 20 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Waukegan, Illinois, 60085 or 847-377-3344.
High schools or police departments interested in joining us to assist homeless veterans and veterans in need, please contact Deputy Chief Petrillo at 847-362-4449.