Monterey County

Homeless veterans receive "hand-up" during Stand Down 2016

Monterey Stand Down helps veterans

SEASIDE, Calif. - Hundreds of homeless veterans are getting the chance this weekend to receive complimentary clothing, food, shelter, legal and dental attention as the 3rd Monterey County Homeless Veteran "Stand Down" begins in Seaside.

Peter Hernandez is a homeless veteran, but the "Stand Down" event has him and his wife feeling optimistic.

"I know they will be able to help me out and I am very happy being here," said Hernandez.

Hernandez is one of the more than 400 veterans expected to attend this year.

"It's important because if you are a homeless veteran you are out there it's dangerous and it's scary," said event coordinator Tom Griffin.

At the Stand Down event a tent city has emerged where veterans can receive a number of different services including warm meals, a place to shower and sleep and even legal help where six judges come to handle misdemeanors. The veterans can also fulfill community service sentences over the weekend.

"That is a wonderful thing because then they can apply for jobs, they can apply for a driver's license, it's a whole new legal side of life," said Griffin.  

Veterans also can get dental and medical services, all provided for free by volunteer dentists and doctors like retired soldier Dr. Jerry Griffin.

"I am going to be taking care of our homeless vets and I am going to be taking care of any patient I can take care of," said Dr. Griffin.

Another volunteer, Janet Parks, served in the U.S. Navy for close to 20 years. Now she acts as an inspiration for active soldiers and other veterans.

"It's very important," said Parks. "Veterans helping veterans. That's what it's all about."

Not everyone at the event is homeless. There are many, like Dannie McGrew who, with the help of VA and the Hud-Vash program, have turned their lives around.

"I am really happy with it, now I got an apartment," said McGrew. "I am not homeless any more. It's a great program." 

Hernandez also just found out that he is eligible to graduate from that program too and for that he is grateful.

"I am very glad that the United States is a country that feeds and helps the homeless out," said Hernandez.

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