Organizations throughout Dutchess County give back to veterans during holiday season
Nothing says holiday spirit like giving back - and who is more deserving of that kindness than those who have selflessly served this country.
In Dutchess County, services and resources for veterans took center stage on Friday.
Marine veteran Tyler Mendelson runs the veteran employment program through MHA Dutchess, the organization that hosted a free "Stand Down" event in Poughkeepsie.
"It's amazing turning people's lives around when they really need it most. We're happy to do it and we're humble about it," he says.
This was the fourth Stand Down event to benefit area veterans.
Veteran Sharon Toney-Finch handed out free boots and sleeping bags through her YIT Foundation.
"We do help our veterans and homeless veterans during this time, in a year of COVID especially. We were able to house over 500," she says.
According to the Veterans Support Organization, homeless veterans make up 33% of the nation's homeless population and 76% of those vets suffer from alcohol and drug issues or mental health problems.
Veterans learned they can even adopt a dog for free through the Boots & Paws program, which partners with Von Wolfenfels K-9 in Putnam County.
"We want to let them know that there's other ways to help their mental health. And studies have shown that having a relationship with a K-9 actually improves their mental health," says Angela Garcia, director of the Boots & Paws program.