In the military, a stand down is a time when combat troops come back from the front lines to rest and recuperate from the rigors of war.
On Sept. 15, Stand Down for Local Veterans will offer free clothing, showers, haircuts, hygiene kits and resources for employment and housing.
"It's like a reprieve from the streets," Seattle Stand Down Director Sam Barrett said.
The Seattle Stand Down will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College. The free community event is a partnership between the college, the state's Dept. of Veteran Affairs, King County Veterans, United Way, VFW and other organizations.
The event is geared toward homeless veterans but open to all veterans and their dependents. Barrett expects about 500 people to show up.
Outreach workers will be on hand to provide information about housing, employment and job training, medical and legal aid and alcohol/drug counseling.
It is difficult to say exactly how many veterans are homeless, but according to Barrett it is often said that roughly a third of all those without housing in America have served in the U.S. military.
"This is homelessness prevention," Barrett said of the Stand Down.
A veteran's return from service can be a key factor in whether he or she ends up on the street, Barrett said.
"It starts with how well does a solider transition out of the military. A lot of the Vietnam vets, it was a crime the way they were treated when they came back. They didn't have the support systems necessary to make the transition."
To some extent, that has changed, but Barrett said returning veterans still face many challenges.
That's why he was pleased to hear President Obama announce plans for a "reverse boot camp" which would prepare military service members to re-integrate into civilian life.
Media exposure on the challenges returning veterans face will help bridge the gap between military culture and the general population.
"It's hard when only 1 percent of the population serves [in the military]," Barrett said. "It can be a huge disconnect in the community."
By organizing Stand Down, Barrett hopes to "create exposure, and kind of a link, from the veteran to the community, so people can start finding out: "What are the issues?"