“Watching these men and women gain access to vital resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to really changes your perspective.” – Sarah Johnson, TriWest Senior Complex Case Navigator
As a TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) volunteer at the 2023 Maricopa County StandDown, Sarah Johnson showed up in a big way.
Sarah coordinated the midday lunch service lines with other volunteers, ensuring that Veterans at the day-long event were served.
She was among 24 TriWest employees who volunteered at the StandDown event on April 28 at the sprawling Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.
“Watching these men and women gain access to vital resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to really changes your perspective,” said Sarah, Senior Complex Case Navigator at TriWest. “It allowed me to show my appreciation for the sacrifices these men and women made for our country.”
The Maricopa County StandDown, staged annually since 2001 with the exception of the COVID shutdown in 2020 and 2021, is the nation’s largest event of its kind supporting homeless and low-income Veterans. The event, held in Phoenix where TriWest’s headquarters is located, allows Veterans to connect with multiple service and support providers on a single day.
Veterans experiencing housing instability and homelessness participated in the event where housing coordinators, health and dental providers, legal assistance, and even hair and grooming professionals were available.
Team TriWest volunteers supported activities ranging from registering Veterans as they entered the fairgrounds in the morning, to guiding them through provider stations throughout the day, and assisting the many community providers. Employees also helped set up the staging areas on the days leading up to the gathering.
Serving Those Who Served
Glenn Gray, TriWest’s Director of Customer Care and Community Relations, said, “Our employees stepped up to support Veterans in our community, doing everything from setting up tables to walking Veterans through the intake process and escorting them around to the many resources available.”
“The StandDown is a tremendous event for local Veterans to access numerous community resources at one time and achieve stability,” Glenn added.
The event is named after the military term “Stand Down” or brief period of time service members are ordered to take a break from current operations to rest and assess before returning back to normal operations. The event was coordinated by the Arizona Housing Coalition’s Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance (AVSA).
The Alliance also holds events across Arizona that connect Veterans and their families experiencing housing instability and homelessness with support services.
The Human Services Campus in Phoenix and Valley of the Sun United Way also were instrumental in the Maricopa County StandDown, as was the Arizona Department of Veterans Services. Corporate supporters included TriWest and others.
Team TriWest: Eager to Help
For Sarah and other TriWest volunteers, their enthusiasm to help was front and center, and volunteering “provided an opportunity to give back and make a small difference in the lives of those who served,” she said.
TriWest volunteers started as early as 6 a.m., and others’ shifts ran late into the afternoon. TriWest offers a generous Paid Volunteer Time benefit to employees to allow them work hours throughout the year to serve military and Veteran-connected organizations.
Jeff Braeger, TriWest Senior Internal Auditor, last year volunteered to help set up StandDown. This year, Jeff worked with his TriWest colleagues and volunteers from other local organizations to staff and run the event.
He was eager – and delighted – to serve the Veterans participating in StandDown.
“I care about our Veterans and wanted to provide a great day for Veterans at the event,” Jeff said. “It was great to see all the different providers from physical therapy, to court services, to pet grooming.”
Kathryn (Kat) Thompson, TriWest Supervisor, Provider Systems & Quality, reflected on the event’s support for Veterans. It was also her second year volunteering at StandDown.
“It is a wonderful solution to bring everything together to allow them to have a one-stop shop. Everything is in one place to get as much done in one trip as possible,” Kat said. “It was awesome to see their relief when they were able to get stuff completed, and so fun to see old friends reunite and catch up.”
The Veterans’ gratitude was evident throughout the day.
“The smile on their faces when giving them snacks and drinks or simply thanking them for their service was amazing,” she said. “I volunteered to be able to give back and do more for our Veterans. They deserve that and so much more.”