The 24th annual Stand Down for homeless veterans began Friday at San Diego High School, offering about 100 different services in one location.
Video:Legal Help Offered For Homeless Vets At Stand Down
The three-day event was launched in San Diego more than two decades ago, and has since spread to 200 locations nationwide, said Tom Mitchell of Veterans Village of San Diego, which organizes the event.
"We provide showers, new clothing, a haircut," Mitchell said.
Court officials were on hand to help homeless veterans take care of misdemeanor warrants and traffic citations; the Department of Motor Vehicles was providing identification cards; and rehabilitation centers were assisting attendees with alcohol and drug abuse issues, he said.
Student volunteers from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law were also on hand to offer veterans free legal help.
Army veteran Cornell Granville went before Judge Adam Wertheimer to discuss delinquent child support. He was represented by third-year law student Danielle Mor, who allowed to represent the veteran under the supervisor of her law professor.
"It's nice to give back to the people who give so much to our country," said Mor.
Granville was surprised and pleased by the legal aid.
"I was actually here for a little minor thing, which she turned into a better thing," he said. "I think she deserves a raise from the get-go."
"The help is here if they want it," Mitchell told a local TV station.
He said the tents and cots set up across athletic fields on the downtown campus create a military atmosphere, which helps the veterans return to a time when they had more structure and discipline in their lives.
About 1,000 veterans will be aided by 3,000 volunteers, among them former Stand Down participant Josh Cornwell.
Cornwell told 10News he helps guide 30 men staying in Bravo tent by sharing his own story.
"Whatever problem they've had -- mental, physical, drugs, alcohol, people -- they're not alone," said Cornwell, a Navy veteran.
Navy veteran Gregory Davis said Stand Down will put him on the right path.
"Some people in here are in pretty bad shape. The streets are no joke," said Davis. "It's pretty hard, pretty tough. A lot of people here are homeless, they have no benefits and they live on the streets."
Event coordinator Darcy Pavich said 947 homeless veterans were served at last year's Stand Down, an increase of 19 from the year before.
She said this year's count could approach 1,000 because of high unemployment rates among veterans recently who recently returned to civilian life.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of veterans from post-9/11 wars was 10.9 percent in April, more than two points above the national figure. However, the rate for male veterans aged 19-24 was 27 percent.
"(Veterans) raised their right hand to protect and defend, not to be homeless," Mitchell said.
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