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AmeriCorps VISTA Ronnie Miley Leads the Way with Volunteer Macon’s Stand Down/Homefront Event October 11, 2012

Posted by servicecorpsnews in Accomplishment Spotlight.
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On September 7, 2012, Volunteer Macon’s Middle Georgia Stand Down/Homefront event was held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9709 in Macon, Ga. Ronnie Miley, an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with Volunteer Macon through the American Legion Auxiliary Call to Service Corps, initiated and helped plan the event. The stand down served to familiarize area veterans with local services and reaffirm the community’s commitment to its military-connected members.

The stand down was held in a new location this year, far from downtown Macon. Many were concerned that veteran attendance would suffer as a result. Miley responded by securing vouchers for free public transportation to and from the event for all veterans who wished to attend.

Miley also played a significant role in ensuring the attendance of local service providers, such as health care personnel who offered free eye and dental exams, as well as blood pressure and diabetes screenings. Barbers were available to provide free haircuts. Duffel bags containing clothing, shoes, sleeping bags and toiletries were provided to the more than 300 homeless veterans in attendance. Other participants included representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, who were available to help veterans craft and refine their resumes, and members of the Georgia Legal Services Program, who offered general assistance with VA claims and referred veterans to local attorneys. Volunteer Macon staff were also available to offer advice about emergency preparedness to veterans in need.

Public officials in attendance included Tracey Thornton, Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop; County Commissioner Bert Bivens; City Councilman Lonnie Miley; and Georgia State Senator James Beverly.

Eric Bryson, an AmeriCorps VISTA assigned to Volunteer Macon — though not through the ALA Call to Service Corps  — assisted Miley in planning and executing the stand down.

Gigi Rolfes, Executive Director of Volunteer Macon, was enthusiastic about the results.

“It was terrific…and our first venture into this type of event,” Rolfes said. “[Miley’s and Bryson’s] work was amazing and we are very proud.”

Miley served twenty years in the United States Army prior to his VISTA term. Also, he is the commander of Macon’s Disabled American Veterans (DAV) post. He was similarly pleased with the experience.

“[The event] was near and dear to my heart,” he said.  “It was a very successful event; but more than that, it really let me be a part of helping veterans.”

Volunteer Macon is a member of the Community Blueprint, a nationally developed set of practices and tools to assist communities in serving their veterans, servicemembers and military families. The Blueprint launched nationally on October 9.

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