More than 500 aggressive veterans took advantage of a one-stop boutique accident at the Santa Maria Fairpark Saturday area they could get chargeless appurtenances and casework alignment from apparel, food, bloom screenings and alike acknowledged help.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the veterans, with accouchement and ancestors members, or accompanied by a accomplice Air Force affiliate from Vandenberg Air Force Base, took advantage of the anniversary Veterans Stand Down, which has developed bigger and bigger back its birth in 2012.
The accident is modeled afterwards added communities about the accompaniment that served abandoned and at-risk veterans for decades and was launched seven years ago by Santa Barbara Canton Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.
“Years ago, Supervisor Lavagnino came to bodies about the canton and asked if it was accessible to accomplish a Veterans Stand Down accident appear actuality in this town,” said Frank Mejia, account provider coordinator of the Veterans Stand Down. “He again formed a committee, and we all took on a role to accommodate aggregate we could accessible for our veterans.”
Registered attendees were accustomed a wristband aloft access to the fairgrounds on Saturday; veterans were accustomed a red band, volunteers were accustomed a dejected band, ancestors associates of veterans were accustomed a chicken band, and blooming wristbands were accustomed to abandoned veterans.
The color-coded wristbands admonition volunteers bigger analyze specific items anniversary adept would need, said Mejia.
At the Fairpark, the Stand Down had aggregate available, from barter employers, organizations gluttonous to appoint employees, resume writing, clothes, shoes, toiletries, education, acknowledged admonition from the Santa Barbara Canton Office of the Public Defender, medical help, immunization shots, dental check-ups, aggressive benefits, to alike a barber and a haircut.
“We additionally every year accept a lot of association ally like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Good Samaritan and canton agencies like CalWorks, CalFresh, MediCal that appear together,” said Mejia. “It absolutely is a one-stop boutique — you appear actuality for a day, get pampered, get breakfast, accompany your pet to get groomed, bathed and microchipped.”
Mejia added: “We additionally accept PTSD counseling for aggressive vets, LGBTQ organizations, you name it we accept it — it’s all beneath one place.”
U.S. Army adept John Venus, who larboard the aggressive in September 1991, said it was his aboriginal time accessory the accident in Santa Maria on Saturday, and was able to go home with a new jacket, boots, socks, a haversack and career advice.
“This is so accessible — there’s so abounding advantageous things here,” said Venus.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Venus served in the U.S. Army for about 10 years and catholic all over the country and Europe. He started his aggressive career in infantry again became a adhesive man. The aftermost four years of his aggressive career, Venus was in appropriate operations.
Venus heard about Saturday’s accident from his three-month Veterans Treatment Program in Santa Maria, which he enrolled in on Sept. 11.
“A lot of us veterans charge admonition and this is so abundant admonition for us,” said Venus. “They activity so abounding altered programs actuality at the Stand Down. One of the better things aggressive veterans, including myself, accept to go through a lot of times is PTSD.
“Just to accept admonition from the association like this helps us a lot and helps us apperceive that we’re not alone,” Venus continued. “Today, I don’t feel abandoned — I feel like I’m with my accomplished ancestors here.”
Mejia said planning for the anniversary Veterans Stand Down never seems to stop; anon afterwards Saturday’s accident is over, “we accept an activity analysis to analyze how the day went.
We ask all the volunteers to accord acknowledgment on things we could improve, or accompany aing year, things like that,” he said. “We accept an absurd bulk of supporters in our association that accomplish today possible.”
Mejia said it’s advantageous for the board and its ample aggregation of volunteers to acknowledgment every year for the Stand Down and see how abounding lives are afflicted aloof from one cruise to the Santa Maria Fairpark.
“I sometimes admiration if association like myself or added volunteers don’t get added out of it than the veterans do because absolutely honestly, because our men and women in compatible accept accustomed up so abundant for us,” said Mejia, “it’s an account for us to be actuality and do this for them.”
Gina Kim covers abomination and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210
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