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Outreach Event For Homeless Veterans Gathers Resources In One Place

An elderly man wears a red cape while receiving a free haircut from a woman in a white hat.
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Miriam Knows His Gun gives Veteran Chuck Smith recieves a free haircut at Homeless Veteran Stand Down event in Billings September 19.

On Thursday, nonprofit Volunteers of America hosted an outreach event geared toward homeless veterans in Billings.

It drew a number of services, state agencies and businesses. Miriam Knows His Gun owns a barbershop in Crow Agency called Cuts The Hair.

On Thursday, she’s in Billings offering veterans free haircuts.

91-year-old Chuck Smith, who served at various times including during the Vietnam War, comes up for a trim and she fastens a sheet around his neck.

Knows His Gun has been offering free cuts at the Homeless Veteran Stand Down for the last five years, but the event itself has been going on for nine.

Nonprofit organization Volunteers of America organizes it with the Montana VA Health Care System. Volunteers of America Director of Veteran Services Bill Holder says this event helps connect veterans with resources in the area.

“Mainly so there’s a central access point for veterans to receive services and just let them know that the community’s out there, they’re not forgotten," Holder says.

Various agencies participated, including the Social Security Administration and organizations offering job assistance and housing guidance.

Back at the pop-up barber shop, Knows His Gun picks up her scissors for some fine detail and brushes the hair from Smith’s shoulders. She says it’s been a slow day but she’ll be back next year.

“‘Cause there’s just something about seeing them look at themselves in the mirror. You know they’re feeling so much better about themselves," she says. "It lifts their self-esteem and they walk away and it makes me feel really good.”

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.