KALAMAZOO, Mich. — It was a day to honor veterans in Kalamazoo, although the annual "Veterans Stand Down" event on Friday looked a little bit different this year.
While veterans may not have been able to gather in-person this year due to COVID-19, that didn't stop around 50 of them in the Kalamazoo area from coming out to enjoy a free meal and other resources.
Cordell Gardner is a U.S. Navy veteran, who served on the U.S.S. San Diego. He's one of the dozens taking part in the annual 'Veterans Stand Down' in Kalamazoo.
"It helps you with your benefits. It helps you with the programs and how to get registered," said U.S. Navy Veteran Cordell Gardner.
The event helps connect veterans to necessary services, but this year it was held via drive-thru to adhere to social distancing guidelines. All partners including the Salvation Army worked together to make sure it still happened for veterans in need.
"They're able to just be here to connect to various services. Not only to just provide some immediate material needs that they may have but also resources they may need moving forward," said Captain Shawn DeBaar with the Salvation Army.
"Housing is a big one in Kalamazoo, stability, affordability, so we do have some resources to help them with that. The Veterans Affairs is really big on helping with housing as well," said the Veterans Services Coordinator for Kalamazoo County Lauren King.
In addition to housing, organizers said food and employment are also a big concern, so they have resources for those as well.
"It depends on the veteran, the person and what their struggles might be. That's the importance of getting all these resources together. You just don't know what someone might be struggling with," said King.
Even with the changes this year due to COVID-19, Cordell said it means a lot to still have these services available.
"It shows the appreciation and the thankfulness of the people who are concerned about those who sacrificed and gave time to defend and support the constitution of the United States," said Gardner.
Veterans were also able to receive a free flu shot, clothing and other personal items that they may have needed.