A helping hand for those who served their country

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 1:30 PM

The main objective of the Veterans Service Office is to provide prevention, protection, advocacy and support services to veterans and their families so they can maximize their quality of life, well-being and potential.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assistance to veterans and their families. There is a wide range of benefits available for our nation’s veterans. All veterans are encouraged to contact the CVSO to find out more about their VA benefits. Your CVSO can assist you in any matter pertaining to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These services are free of charge. Please visit the La Plata County website at for more information about what the La Plata County Veterans Service Office can do for you.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office is co-located with the Durango VA Clinic at 1970 East Third Ave., Suite 102, Durango, CO. 81301. For clinic appointments, call 247-2214. The Veterans Service Office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, except holidays. Appointments are encouraged. Call 382-6150 to schedule an appointment with the Veterans Service Office.

What is a Stand down? “Stand down” is a military term that was used when soldiers returned from combat and needed a safe place to recover and regroup before heading back into battle. They were provided warm meals, showers and clean uniforms. The first stand down for homeless and at-risk low-income veterans was hosted in 1988 by the Vietnam veterans of San Diego. Robert Van Keuren was a Vietnam veteran who saw many homeless veterans and their struggles, and he wanted to help them. He created an event like the military stand downs to offer hope, direction and support. Many were apprehensive about getting any help, so he created an environment that was safe, encouraging and uplifting.

As a result of his efforts, stand downs are held each year across the county to help homeless and at-risk veterans regain their self-esteem and direct them in a positive direction, in a caring way, away from the struggles and hardships they have been carrying around for so long.

Stand downs can last from one to three days. They provide immediate relief and short-term or long-term assistance, depending on the needs of the veteran. The services provided include but are not limited to showers; warm meals; haircuts; drug and alcohol counseling; medical and dental care; employment counseling and referrals; warm, clean clothing; help with legal and tax problems; VA benefits counseling and assistance; housing services and counseling.

The annual Four Corners Veterans Stand Down is an opportunity for the community to come together to support these men and women who gave their all to protect our way of life, and to show them the resources and support available to them in their communities.

We are seeking volunteers to provide resource tables for the veterans this day.

For more information about this event or how you can help, you may contact either Peggy at 247-8589 or Jana at 749-1673 or email them at Or visit the website at

Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or

If you go

What: Four Corners Veterans Stand Down 2016

When: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: La Plata County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, Durango

For more information

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assis­tance to veterans and their families. For more information, visit the county website at and type “veterans services” in the search window. The Veterans Service Office and the Durango VA Clinic are located at 1970 East Third Ave. The office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Appointments are encouraged. To schedule an appoint­ment, call 382-6150. For clinic appointments, call 247-2214.
Help for vetsThe Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans, family and friends. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1. You also can text professional responders at 838255 or chat online at
Health care van serviceDisabled American Veterans is running a VA health care van from Durango to Albuquerque on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from Farmington to Albuquerque on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you want to use the DAV transportation network, contact DAV coordinators at:
Durango area – 442-0149Cortez area – (970) 676-1116Farmington/Aztec – (505) 793-1782