Victor Mulholland of Yolo County is just one of hundreds who will benefit from the services offered during the three-day event at the Dixon May Fair grounds.
“It’s a blessing, I feel the love,” he said as he waited in line for lunch Tuesday. “This is what America is all about: showing love for the veterans.”
Mulholland served in the United States Army and was at the Stand Down to find dental care and leads on employment. As an artist, he was hoping to find something in graphic design.
“I think this is great,” he added.
In its 12th year, the North Bay Stand Down has reached thousands of veterans and the community has rallied around the event.
“It’s been pretty trying times with the government shutdown,” said Jeff Jewell, Sacramento Vet Center director and Stand Down organizer. “So many volunteers and businesses have stepped in. I really appreciate the community. We’ve been blessed all around.”
Just last week, organizers were faced with a lack of money to run the event. The government shutdown tied up a grant already approved for the event. Several organizations stepped in to help. Solano County gave an $8,000 loan and the American Legion Post 208 donated $4,000.
The Stand Down was set to receive $10,000 from the Department of Labor, but that check is in limbo for the time being.
Additionally, tents were borrowed from the Sacramento Stand Down and Vacaville’s City Coach helped with transportation for at least 30 veterans. The buses will return Thursday to take veterans back to where they were picked up.
Volunteer and Iraq war veteran Jack Costa, who served in the United States Marines Corps, took the day off of work in Sacramento to help at the Stand Down.
“I thought it was worth it,” he said.
He got involved with the event after hearing about it during a combat veteran group.
“This is very important,” he said. “I’ve had several friends commit suicide, and I believe that if they were more involved, they would have seen that others are going through the same thing and it might have been a different outcome for them.”
Some of the services offered at the Stand Down include dental care and health screenings, programs for alcoholism and drug treatment, veterans benefits through the state, and assistance in applying for medical benefits and educational programs.
California Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Peter Gravett said it’s important to have events like the Stand Down to identify veterans in need of services.
“You earned this,” he said to the veterans during the opening ceremony.
Volunteer Frank Parker with the United Veterans Council of Lake County said there is always someone that needs a hand and that events like the Stand Down make it possible for veterans to reach out to those who, like them, served their country.
“We want to get them healthy, we want to get them clean and get them the support they need,” he said. “All we’re doing is giving back. It’s good to see a veteran walk in down and sad and see them leave happy, relaxed and confident. It’s a good feeling.”
James Yates with Lake County Vet Connect said that when he returned from the Vietnam War, nobody wanted to talk to them and they didn’t want to tell people where they served.
“It shouldn’t matter where you served in the military,” he said. “You’ve earned the right to be called a veteran.”
More information is available online at nbstanddown.org.