H-SANTA MARIA

Oct 18, 2013 6:57 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Stand down for veterans set for this weekend

Dozens of Central Coast organizations are helping out some local veterans this weekend.

Saturday is the 2nd Annual Stand Down for Homeless and At-Risk Veterans event. Veterans can get a health screening and see a dentist. There will be housing and employment information, and they can even get a haircut and a shower.

It's a day to help out one of the largest homeless groups in Santa Barbara County.

"We've got clothes, towels, new boots, sleeping bags, and cots. All kinds of good things," said 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.

Volunteers sorted through boxes and boxes of donations from the community. They were prepping for a day some veterans have waited for all year.

81-year-old William Rothfuss is an Army veteran. He's been on the streets longer than he can remember.

Rothfuss says being homeless can be rough and he knows many other veterans in the same situation.

"Fred, Jeff, Jim, and John," said Rothfuss.

"Everybody was so nice," said veteran Jerry Cox, who served in the Navy.

He traveled from Goleta a day early to help out.

Cox says he's thankful to be here but wishes he had a home of his own.

"You are still missing one little thing. It's a roof over your head," said Cox.

Lavagnino says there were more than 200 veterans at the Stand Down last year.

"These are guys that are on the street and struggling," said Lavagnino.

He says he hopes this event will change that.

Rothfuss says the stand down is an important day. He says it's a step in the right direction for homeless veterans.

"It's not going to happen overnight. That's a guarantee. I was in the service. It's a lot of hurry up and wait," said Rothfuss.

The event is free. Gates open at 9 a.m. and it runs until 3 p.m.

There will be more than 70 agencies there, including the local Veterans Affairs Department. Applications for veterans who want to attend the Stand Down are available at the Santa Barbara County Veterans Stand Down website: www.sbcountystanddown.com or by calling Supervisor Lavagnino's office at (805) 346-8402.

Applications can be emailed, mailed or faxed upon request.

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