Hundreds of California veterans are gathering near Sacramento's VA Medical Center at Mather Business Park for the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event is this weekend.
The three-day event provides a wide range of services, including food, clothing; medical, legal and mental health assistance; job counseling and referral.
Anthony Creel, president of Sacramento Stand Down Association, says the event gives vets the opportunity to rest and recover from hardship.
"We get everything for them in one place so that they don't have to go very far. And while we're doing that, we give them a place to sleep; we give them clean clothes; we give them good meals so they don't have to worry about anything," Creel says.
Rick Townsend, 39, served four years in the Marines. He says he has been homeless since June.
Former Marine Rick Townsend gets a flu shot at Stand Down, an event connecting homeless veterans with services and providing them with respite, September 16, 2016. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
He came to the Stand Down to get a flu shot and medication for chronic pain that stems from his time in the military.
"The Stand Down is a blessing. Just being provided the opportunity to come out here and take care of health issues, legal issues. This doesn't happen for everybody. It truly is a priviledge to get the care we need," Townsend says.
The Stand Down also gives vets the opportunity to walk away from the event with a clean record through "Veterans Court."The program allows vets to perform community service at the Stand Down in order to clear misdemeanors.
Joshua Major, a former Marine, found out he had a speeding ticket for $1,031. A judge allowed him to do one hour of community service to clear the charge.
"I am greatly relieved and happy," Major says.
Creel says about 300 people have shown up at the compound.
The event continues through Sunday.
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