Stand Down offers chance to reenter society

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

DIXON - The annual three-day encampment known as the North Bay Stand Down is designed to assist men with a "hand up" to Veteran's Administration and county services by building trust with those who might feel alienated from society.

Services such as health, dental, mental health, substance abuse, court services, child support, probation, food stamps and clothing are offered to help reintegrate them into society through the help of more than 200 volunteers.

The Stand Down is also a way of veterans helping veterans, as Patrick Stasio, co-chairman of the event, described.

"War is war and the experiences are basically the same," he said. "It's easier for one homeless vet to talk to another person in the military. It boils down to them understanding each other."

According to Bill Reardon, director of Veteran's Services for Solano County, anywhere from 500-1,500 homeless veterans live in the county.

Nationwide, between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year, based on a report by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

More than 315,000 veterans were effected by post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, in fiscal year 2005, according to the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

The National Coalition for Homeless Veteran's states with an estimated 500,000 veterans homeless at some time during the year, the VA reaches 20 percent of those in need, leaving 400,000 veterans without supportive services.