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Veterans Stand Down

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

Veterans Stand Down event, 2017.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The Veterans Stand Down event is scheduled for Oct. 20, and will be located at Santa Maria Fair Grounds, California. The event will encompass more than 180 free services offered to veterans and their families in the local community. Some of the services include: breakfast and lunch, clothing, medical attention, health and hygiene, legal advice and much more.

The first ever Stand Down was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam Veterans in San Diego. Since then, Stand Downs have been used as an effective tool in reaching out to veterans in need.

“This event is Santa Barbara County’s way to recognize and give back to veterans in the area,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Basel, 14th Air Force readiness manager. “This day will include total support for veterans and their families.”

Santa Barbara County and Vandenberg organize the Stand Down to service all veterans who had once served our country. Last year, more than 500 veterans and their family members attended this event in search of some form of service.

“Across the United States, California is listed number 13 for the amount of homeless veterans, with over 64,000 underprivileged veterans,” said Senior Master Sgt. Curtis Brooks, 4th Space Launch Squadron superintendent, and main organizer for this event.

This year will be Santa Barbara’s 7th annual Stand Down and it will be Vandenberg’s 4th year volunteering with support from Airmen.

“We would like 150 Airmen in uniform to escort and assist the veterans throughout the day,” said Brooks.

 Although the variety of services are all helpful, there’s one service that is particularly important on this day – active duty support.

 “I look forward to this day because it’s important for these veterans to have someone who has worn the uniform to understand and relate to them in their time of need,” said Basel. “They can’t get that on the street.”

Even though this event is very impactful for the veterans in need, the mark it leaves with those who volunteer is just as impactful.

”This event is such a humbling experience for active duty members,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Coleman, 1st Air and Space Test Squadron mission support flight chief. “I volunteered at this event last year, and the day was so impactful that when it was over I got in my car and cried.”

All of these veterans were once able to stand on their own two feet, but now they need a little help from their brothers and sisters in arms, and it’s that realization of “this can happen to anyone” that hits home to many Airmen.

 “Seeing folks who come to this event from off the streets, knowing you’ve seen them around town a time or two sleeping under bridges or the outskirt of cities, it hits home,” said Coleman. “When you make the connection and really let it sink in, it’ll leave you speechless.”

For more information contact Curtis Brooks at (805) 315-2951 or email him at Curtis.brooks@us.af.mil.