Saluting Through Service
Whether they’ve served four years or 24 years, one fact remains true regarding veterans: they all deserve respect and gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made during their time in uniform and to be honored in every way possible for their bravery, heroism, and selflessness. Unfortunately, separation from active duty service and transition back into civilian life can bring them challenges that seem insurmountable, as they must often start from square one in every way, from finding jobs to finding housing. All too often, those challenges leave them feeling alone and abandoned by the country that they’ve served, and many veterans find themselves jobless and sometimes even homeless. Finances are strained, family relationships are tested, and the emotional battles become a part of life that can take down even the most well-trained soldiers.
Fortunately for these men and women, organizations like Operation Stand Down Tennessee make it their mission to provide them with the tools and support they need to be successful in their new lives, offering them guidance that often proves invaluable in giving them the best possible future. “OSDTN focuses on helping all veterans and their families by engaging, equipping, and empowering them; and we offer a wide range of services, including employment assistance, VA benefits assistance, networking, and housing,” explains OSDTN Clarksville Operations Manager Willie Celestine, who has been a part of the Clarksville location since it first started serving the needs of the Fort Campbell area in 2014. “Unfortunately, Federal grants cover only housing, but financial support is also needed to provide other services for Veterans and their families—and that’s truly where we make the difference. The needs are ongoing—so our mission here isn’t one that’s ever fully completed—but the work that we do is extremely important, and seeing the changes we make in these veterans’ lives is one of our greatest rewards.”
4th Annual OSD Heroes Breakfast
“I volunteer and assist many local organizations and groups, but this group has my heart smiling every time I walk in or out of the doors. It’s a group of dedicated individuals that I’m proud to support, represent, and donate to,” adds Farmers Insurance agent Danielle Stack, who works closely with OSDTN in the Clarksville location as a committee volunteer. “The Clarksville community would not be what it is without Fort Campbell, so we consider these individuals to be extremely important. This is just one way that we work as a community that serves veterans throughout their lives, and it’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
“I volunteer and assist many local organizations and groups, but this group has my heart smiling every time I walk in or out of the doors. It’s a group of dedicated individuals that I’m proud to support, represent, and donate to.” - Danielle Stack
A quick look at the statistics proves just what the organization has achieved, with nearly 3,000 veterans having received services in the Veteran Service Centers in 2018. Nearly 300 veterans found or upgraded their employment through OSDTN’s Career Services Department; and 125 veterans participated in the Transitional Housing Program, with 77% leaving successfully. 1,814 veterans and their families were assisted in filing disability claims, and 218 veterans and their families received financial assistance to either move from being homeless into permanent housing or to remain in their homes. Over 600 veterans received free clothing items, and more than 300 volunteers contributed their time to the Veteran Service Centers. In comparison with previous years’ numbers, that’s a firm step in the right direction, and there’s no end to the mission in sight. “Every veteran counts,” says Stack. And every veteran’s service deserves to be saluted.
To learn more about volunteer and donation opportunities as well as the programs offered by OSDTN in Clarksville, visit www.osdtn.org or call (931) 896-2184.
Story by Liesel Schmidt + Photography Courtesy of Operation Stand Down Tennessee