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Operation Stand Down opens new facility to assist military veterans

A new service center in Johnston provides military veterans with the dignity they deserve when getting help. (WJAR)

Military veterans have a new place to go for help.

It's a new service center at Operation Stand Down, which is the current NBC 10 News/Citizens Bank, Champion in Action.

Mark Braden loves playing with his three-year-old daughter, Bailey, on their backyard swing set. It's something they would not have if it weren't for Operation Stand Down.

The veteran and his family have been living in agency housing for the last few years, as Operation Stand Down helps them get back on their feet.

"(They help with) everything from credit, repairing credit, if not on that, then getting you to the VA (and) getting you the benefits you need," Braden said. "You want to talk about guys that will go the extra mile."

With a new service center in Johnston, Operation Stand Down now has a way to better deliver services to veterans like Braden.

The center is dedicated to one of their own, veteran and volunteer Tom Poole, who lost his life in a tragic accident.

The major benefit of the new center is to provide clients with the dignity they deserve when getting help.

"It's important they have ability to do so in a private environment as they talk to their case managers because we need to know the truth of how they got where they are so that we can answer their needs," said Erik Wallin of Operation Stand Down.

The center was made possible in part because of Operation Stand Down's $35,000 grant from Citizens Bank as part of its Champion in Action designation.

"More importantly, it's gotten our message out," said Wallin. "It has let us reach out to veterans when they might have not heard of us and have come to us for services."

Braden said the help is invaluable. He's close now to reaching his goal of owning his own home.

"(It's the) reason why my family's still here," he said. "I'm together with my daughter and wife."

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