Area vets line up for annual stand-down

Hundreds of area veterans gathered on a rainy Saturday for the 17th annual Libby Stand Down, held at the VFW in Libby.

The annual event, brought to Libby by the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., provides haircuts, surplus military clothing, and assistance with veterans’ resources for qualified veterans in the communities of Lincoln County. There was also a civilian clothing give away.

Libby is one of just four locations in the pacific northwest region where stand downs take place, primarily due to the high concentration of veterans in the area and the dedication and hard work of the Libby VFW and area volunteers.

“This area has the second largest population of veterans in the state and is the largest per capita for vets in the country,” said event volunteer Allen Erickson, Sr. of Kalispell. “We had about 50 volunteers working all day to set this up and we anticipate serving several hundred locals during the event tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve had as many as 2,500 people attend this stand down in the 17 years I’ve been doing this.”

The VA also brought their mobile clinic where veterans were provided physical and mental health care. The mobile clinic has two fully equipped exam rooms and a registration area.  In addition to onsite medical evaluations and basic treatment, staff provided flu shots to area veterans. Mike Lehman, RN, the mobile clinic coordinator, said prior to the event he expected they would provide at least 400 flu shots.