Veterans Stand Down event returns after year long COVID break, with vaccine available

"Veterans Stand Down" event draws dozens

HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - For years, the Foothills Veterans Group held Veterans Stand Down Day at an auditorium in Hickory where hundreds of vets could gather and receive help in housing, healthcare and more.

Last year, the pandemic forced the group to cancel but this year, they were determined to hold the event. But instead of inside a large auditorium, the agencies that help veterans gathered in a parking lot in downtown Hickory.

Dozens of vets showed up for the event, including some who are homeless. Free gifts were handed to all including backpacks and sleeping bags for those who wanted them. They also had a new section this year: a vaccination clinic.

Officials had hoped to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because only one shot would be needed, but switched to Moderna after health officials put a pause on the use of the J&J shot. It means anyone who got the vaccine on Friday will have to go to their local health departments to get a second one.

Those who received the shots said they would.

Officials say they are already looking forward to next year’s event. They hope restrictions will be eased by then and an indoor event can be held.

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