The second annual North County Veterans Stand Down is set to begin this week at the Green Oak Ranch in Vista. The four-day event will take place January 25-28 with the goal of helping homeless veterans and their families from across San Diego County receive services that could help get them off the streets, and in permanent housing.
“The stand down gives our local homeless veterans a temporary break from their reality, while at the same time providing a one-stop location to connect them with the programs they need in a safe, friendly and secure location,” NCVSD Chairman Matt Foster, who is also the commander of the Escondido VFW said.
Besides food and clothing, services such as dental, optometry, and basic medical will be provided. The DMV, IRS, Social Security, and the Employment Development Department are just some of the groups that will be on-hand as well.
“In total, over thirty organizations will be available to not only the homeless veterans, but to their families and animals if they are with them,” Foster said.
On January 27, the stand down will host a Celebration of Heroes starting at 10 a.m. to recognize veterans, their families and all those who support the veteran community.
This year’s guest speaker will be local veteran Sidney “Big Sid” Matlock, who will share his experiences of being homeless while attending college, working at Palomar College and volunteering for other organizations such as Operation Hope.
“He has an amazing story,” Foster said. “It needs to be told and it needs to be shared because not only is it inspirational to those that are in a similar situation, but it provides motivation for the rest of us to keep on supporting organizations that help our homeless vets.”
Even though the event starts this week, registration will continue throughout the event for both volunteers and homeless veterans and their families.
“Right now, we have over 130 homeless veterans and their families registered to attend at the ranch,” Foster said. “However, I expect the number to increase because many will wait to register when they get there or show-up for just one day and not stay overnight.”
Foster said that many homeless veterans are working with other programs such as Interfaith or are sleeping on a friend’s couch, so they already have a place to sleep, but will attend for one day to receive services they do not have access to.