REGION — Preparations for the inaugural North San Diego County Veterans Stand Down are underway. The three-day event aims to introduce homeless veterans and their families to needed services to get them back on track.
Matt Foster, North San Diego County Veterans Stand Down board chair, said the goal is to raise community awareness, and help homeless veterans get off the street.
Foster said no one should be homeless, especially not our veterans.
“This should not be a problem,” Foster said.
The idea to hold a Stand Down in North County percolated about 18 months ago. Veterans volunteering at the San Diego Stand Down saw a need to hold an event closer to home.
The North San Diego County Veterans Stand Down will take place at Green Oak Ranch in Vista.
The ranch is a 142-acre site with heated cabins, a dinning facility, meeting halls, and a kids playground and petting zoo. It is built to accommodate large private groups.
Veterans and their families will be housed and fed on site during the three-day event.
On day one homeless veterans will check in and be accessed for needed health, legal, career and housing services.
Then they will receive a personal care bag, be able to take a warm shower, and a fresh change of gently used clothes.
The following two days they will receive initial services.
Community professionals will donate a variety of services during the event.
Service organizations will be on site to sign up veterans and begin assistance, which will continue after the event.
“The niche we fill is we put all the services together for a three-day event,” Foster said. “It’s amazing how many people have come forth (to volunteer).”
A bus will take veterans to participating dentists to have dental work done.
Legal counsel, a misdemeanor forgiveness court, and range of medical services will be provided on site.
There will also be housing services referrals, counseling, and haircuts.
To get ready for the event, Escondido Rotary clubs held a clothing drive on Jan. 7 with the goal of collecting clothes for the 200 veterans expected to attend the Stand Down.
Rotary club member Bonnie Maloney said when club and community members found out about the Stand Down everyone wanted to help.
All kinds of clothing donations were collected, including business clothes for job interviews and work.
In addition to collecting gently used clothes, donations of new socks and underwear were also gathered.
As another step to prepare, Foster will give service providers a tour of the grounds and available accommodations this Friday.
The North San Diego County Veterans Stand Down takes place Jan. 27 to Jan. 29. Preregistration is required of veterans in need of services, and volunteers. Shuttle service to the event will be provided at eight stops in Oceanside, and seven stops in Escondido. For more information visit ncstanddown.org.