Homeless veterans received health care and social services from local volunteers on Sept. 17 and 18 in the Santa Ana College parking lot.
Veterans and their families were provided with basic services, including dental and vision exams and legal services.
Judges volunteered at a “homeless court,” allowing homeless veterans to resolve legal issues and minor offenses. The event also offered new and used clothing provided by Working Wardrobes, in addition to unemployment training and housing assistance by the Veterans Affairs of Long Beach.
“There are 3,000 homeless Veterans here in Orange County, and that is unacceptable”, said Rancho Santiago Community College District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez.
Since the first Stand Down event 22 years ago, there have been about 200 events nationwide serving more than 40,000 homeless veterans. This was the first Stand Down hosted by the Veterans First in Orange County. The Stand Down was not just a place for homeless veterans to receive social and medical services, but a place for them to sleep, eat and improve grooming for two days.
“The purpose of Veterans First is to serve about 5,000 homeless veterans in Orange County,” said Chaplain Alex Diaz. “The majority of homeless veterans that receive help are from the Vietnam War, but there are also a few Iraq veterans because of a 12.1 percent unemployment rate”.
Veterans First calculates the number of homeless veterans and provides them with medical assessments, housing and employment opportunities.
Funding for these services comes from private and public grants, such as the Department of Labor, American Veterans and the Veterans Administration.