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Vanderbilt partners with Operation Stand Down for veterans event

Dec. 4, 2015, 5:49 PM

Vanderbilt Law School, Owen Graduate School of Management, and Vanderbilt School of Nursing students—along with staff from Vanderbilt Human Resources and Equal Employment, Affirmative Action and Disability (EAD) Services—made donations of clothing in support of Operation Stand Down Tennessee’s annual Fall Stand Down. The Vanderbilt groups collected and filled 10 barrels of clothing to benefit homeless veterans.

Vanderbilt volunteers for this year's Fall Stand Down event in November collected and filled 10 barrels of clothing to benefit homeless veterans.

Nursing students provided health services while Human Resources employees and Vanderbilt students served lunch at the two-day event, held Nov. 17 and 18.

Clayton Wiggins, president of the Law Students for Veterans Affairs (LSVA), coordinated the donation event for the law school. “LSVA promotes awareness of issues facing veterans and provides a framework for advocacy and support,” he said. “Each year we host an event to honor the veterans among our students, faculty and staff.”

This year’s LSVA event was sponsored by local law firm Neal & Harwell and brought together veterans from multiple generations and all walks of life. “We appreciate the generosity of Neal & Harwell and our faculty sponsor, Professor Mike Newton,” Wiggins said.

Neal & Harwell attorney Rob Peal said, “Neal & Harwell has a longstanding tradition of employing and supporting veterans. I served in the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan; one of our firm’s founding partners, Jim Neal, served in the Marine Corps in Korea.”

Peal emphasized the importance of organizations such as LSVA in serving veterans. “When I attended Vanderbilt Law School immediately after Operation Iraqi Freedom, there wasn’t a formal support structure in place for veterans,” he said. “We are proud to partner with LSVA, Operation Stand Down, and other organizations who help our veterans.”

The mission of Operation Stand Down Tennessee is to assist veterans and their families to be self-sustaining and better connected to the community. The organization places special emphasis on helping homeless veterans.

“The clothing drive has become an annual activity as part of Human Resources’ Veterans Day celebration,” said Janet Rachel, talent acquisition manager and co-chair of the Vanderbilt Veteran Employment Transition and Support (VETS) Committee. The group was formed to increase outreach to veterans, create a transition-support system, and promote awareness of Vanderbilt’s commitment to the veteran community. It has expanded gradually to other departments with the hope of evolving into a campus-wide activity.

“Through our partnership with Operation Stand Down and other veteran organizations, we’ve made progress in recruiting and hiring veterans and have plans to provide more support in the months and years to come,” Rachel said. “In fact, we nearly doubled our veteran hires from 87 to 152 during the past two fiscal years and posted our highest number yet in the last quarter, with 45 total hires.”

“Operation Stand Down is thrilled to have Vanderbilt as a partner in our shared goal of helping veterans transition back to civilian life, find jobs and feel connected once again,” said Executive Director John Krenson.

For more information about the Vanderbilt VETS Committee, contact co-chairs Janet Rachel or Anita Jenious, director of the Department of Equal Employment, Affirmative Action and Disability Services at Vanderbilt.

For more information about Operation Stand Down Tennessee, visit its website.

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