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Resource Event For Veterans Underway In Vista

A booth with a sign that reads 'Thank You Veterans' is under a tent at the North County Veterans Stand Down  event in Vista. September 16, 2021.
Tania Thorne
A booth with a sign that reads 'Thank You Veterans' is under a tent at the North County Veterans Stand Down event in Vista. September 16, 2021.

The fifth annual North County Veterans Stand Down kicked off at Green Oak Ranch in Vista on Wednesday. The event brings resources and supportive services to one place for all veterans, their families and their pets.

Two hundred fifty beds are available for veterans and their families that need overnight accommodations. Clothing, meals, eye and dental exams, haircuts and tax services will be offered. A medical tent will have a pharmacist, podiatrist, counselors, vaccines and a doctor available. On-site lawyers will be giving advice and qualifying fines or misdemeanors may get cleared on the spot. And for veterans with pets, grooming and veterinary services are available.

Tables full of shoes, blankets, and tote bags at the North County Veterans Stand Down event in Vista. September 16, 2021.
Tania Thorne
Tables full of shoes, blankets, and tote bags at the North County Veterans Stand Down event in Vista. September 16, 2021.

Matt Foster, one of the organizers, said a large majority of the veterans that show up are homeless or experiencing food insecurity. He said all of the services offered are to help the veterans and their families leave in better shape than when they entered.

Kelly Luisi with Homeless Veterans of San Diego said the pandemic had an impact on more veterans becoming homeless.

“We’re coming off such a difficult year with COVID and the eviction moratorium that we’re seeing more and more homeless, younger veterans, and more and more families,” she said.

Luisi said that when supporting services went virtual, many veterans on the streets couldn’t access the help they needed. She said this year, the event is needed more than ever.

Hamin Mumin served in the Navy and is a Vietnam veteran. This was his first time attending the Stand Down event.

“I love it, I mean helping the homeless vets and helping all the guys get their lives together, that's what it's all about because they put their life out there for people,” he said.

Ramon Madrigal, a retired Marine, attended one of the first Stand Down events when he was homeless. That event helped him connect with resources to turn his life around. This year, he returned as a volunteer.

“I'm just giving back to what was given to me and any way I can help anybody who's been in a situation like myself, I’m going to try to do whatever I can to do it and it means a lot to me,” said Madrigal.

Veterans, their families, and their pets can show up to the event anytime before Sunday at noon.

VIDEO: Resource Event For Veterans Underway In Vista