North Coast Stand Down 2010
You don’t leave anybody outside the wire — if you’ve got wounded you go get them, regardless of the cost. — Robert Van Keuren.
Fortuna, CA — It’s that time again to support our local veterans by attending, volunteering, or donating to North Coast Stand Down. The annual event takes place at the Ferndale Fairgrounds on Oct. 1-3.
What is a Stand Down?
In war times, exhausted combat soldiers requiring time to rest and recover were told to “Stand Down” and were taken from battlefields to a place of relative security and safety.
Today, the term refers to a grass-root, community-based intervention program that helps at-risk veterans. It is designed to transform the despair and immobility of many veterans into the momentum necessary to get into recovery, to resolve legal issues, to seek employment, to access health services (including dental examinations and foot care), legal assistance and benefits and to reconnect with the community. Veterans are brought together and provided with a broad range of necessities, respect, support and empowerment and, most importantly, companionship and camaraderie.
Many veterans have suffered years of chronic or recurring readjustment problems since ending their military service, problems often inadequately dealt with by traditional veterans’ services. This is due in part to a lack of structured and effective collaboration among agencies, forcing veterans to go from one agency to another in efforts to access various resources needed to improve his or her situation and a general distrust of government agencies.
Stand Down – A hand up, not a hand out
I’ve found the Vet Center of the Redwoods and community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups such as the North Coast Veterans Resource Center to be outstanding resources. Stand Downs reach out to provide the support for resources and requires collaboration of government agencies, homeless providers, and veteran service organizations. Veterans who participate in these programs have a higher chance of becoming tax-paying, productive citizens again.
Without a comprehensive support system for returning vets, it’s no wonder so many troops are failing to successfully transition from military to civilian life. They leave Baghdad one week and arrive in Humboldt County the next.
According to the Army’s latest figures, approximately one in three Iraq veterans will have post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues. As time goes on that number will rise, and experts predict that trend will continue for decades, just like with the Vietnam veterans. A Stand Down brings together our veterans’ service organizations, various agencies and services to provide a comprehensive system that encourages and helps many veterans to lay aside their distrust and feelings of isolation with the knowledge that they will be able to deal with several problems at one time and place.
It provides a familiar, safe environment in which they can connect with people who have shared experiences, and, given the chance, can provide hope to rebuild their lives. Our Stand Down is an initial outreach program that focuses on providing long-term solutions for veterans and their families in our community.
To date we have received the support of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Department of Veterans Affairs, California Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Development Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, American Red Cross (Humboldt Chapter) many veterans’ organizations, numerous Non-Profits, and transportation providers.
For information about supporting and attending this year’s Stand Down call Redwood Vets Center at 707-444-8271.