DIXON — Solano County veterans and members of the community came together Tuesday to offer three days of help for homeless and needy veterans at the North Bay Stand Down encampment at the Dixon May Fairgrounds.
“If you are a homeless veteran, we will help you,” said Vacaville veteran Jeff Jewell, an event organizer. “If you are willing to turn your life around, we have the services.”
More than 230 veterans from throughout the region showed up at the 11th annual stand down to get access to a range of veterans services from legal assistance and housing to a haircut and medical screenings.
The breakdown of veterans taking part in the local stand down has changed. Some have service dating back to the Korean War. The number of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, meanwhile, has increased. The gender split is also changing.
“We have got more women than we had in the past,” Jewell said.
Organizers said Travis Air Force Base service members, community members and employees from local businesses such as Home Depot, Larry’s Produce, The Vegetable Patch and Genentech turned out to donate goods and to provide more than 700 volunteers to make the stand down a success.
“One great thing is that a lot of volunteers who started with us 11 years ago are still volunteering,” said Lynn Jewell, another stand down organizer.
The only unexpected twist that had people scrambling Tuesday was the warm weather. Volunteers collected tarps for shade, along with fans for the tents where the veterans will spend the next two days.
One of those veterans was Jim Rose from Santa Rosa, who came up on a bus with other veterans and has been coming to the North Bay Stand Down since 2008.
Rose started his first day at the stand down with a haircut from Regina Perez, one of the hair stylists who have been regular volunteers at the encampment. Later on, he said he planned to see one of the dentists who was offering his services, and to spend time with other veterans.
“It is a blessing,” Rose said. “It is tough enough to carry a gun for your country, to kill someone for your country. But this helps take away the pain and it’s a lifetime of pain.”
Navy veteran Anthony Carrillo said he served as a tent leader at the Sacramento Stand Down earlier this year and could not find the time to take advantage of the services that encampment offered, so he came to Dixon.
“I am going to use some of the medical services, get an eye screening,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo voiced the common feeling about the stand down: “It gives you a good place to settle down, get a good meal and get some help,” he said.
Stand down organizers said they can still use help from the community.
“We always need money because the cost of everything has gone sky-high,” organizer Pat Stasio said. ”And even after the stand down is done, we are still taking care of the veterans.”
The stand down continues Wednesday and Thursday. For more information about the effort and how to help, go to www.nbstanddown.org.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.