Portsmouth event aims to help homeless veterans

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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- As the son of a World War II veteran, Mark Cardosi understands the importance of sacrifice.

The second-annual event held in Tracy Park in Portsmouth, Ohio, provides those who are homeless with resources like food, hygiene products and medical care.

"He could tell you about the islands he was on and the warm sands of Iwo Jima," he said.

At age 18, his father left Ohio and went to fight in the marines, risking his life.

"There was a confrontation with an enemy soldier who had a grenade, and it’s just one of those stories that it’s just like, ‘Wow, you survived dad,’” Cardosi said.

Now as an adult, the memories of his dad, who passed last year, have led him to help veterans locally through the second annual Stand-Down to End Homelessness event in Portsmouth.

"We want to make sure that those who've served us are served by us,” he said.

Agencies from across Scioto County and beyond came together to provide homeless vets and community members with free resources like food, hygiene products and medical care.

The Scioto County Community Action Organization, the Scioto County Homeless Shelter, Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Salvation Army and the Chillicothe Veteran's Administration facility are among the groups that came out. Students from Shawnee State University also volunteered.

"You’ve got to know that these veterans have so much potential, even after service that you want to see that,” Cardosi said.

Promise that veterans like Michael, who wanted to remain anonymous, have.

"I’m back to work, I have the prospect of moving into my own place within the next couple weeks,” he said.

Michael deals with mental health issues, including PTSD and substance abuse, that led him to be homeless after serving in the army.

"Especially to have events like this to where people come out to support the veteran community and to know that there is people out there that need help and there is people willing to help,” he said.

With the help of local organizations like Volunteers of America, he now feels like he has some stability in his life and is hoping others who came out today can get to the same place.

"Be nice to people. You never know what somebody's going through. You never know where somebody is at in life and what circumstances have brought them to that point,” Michael said.

Volunteers like Cardosi are ready and willing to lend a helping hand.

"We’re here. We’re here for you when you want to call,” Cardosi said.

Stand-down is a term that started during the Vietnam War that was known as a safe area for soldiers who were tired during battle.