Weekend 'Stand Down' Event To Help Homeless Vets

Homeless veterans in San Diego will get free access to a range of social services Friday at the start of a three-day "Stand Down for Homeless Veterans" event.

Volunteers will provide shelter, food, clothing, showers, haircuts, medical and dental services, legal assistance, mental health and substance abuse counseling as well as aid with job placement.

The event, now in its 22nd year, is run by Veterans Village of San Diego. About 650 homeless veterans will be accepted at this year's Stand Down.

Stand Down is held on the upper athletic fields at San Diego High School. Many of the participants will stay in a tent community erected at the site.

This year, the City Attorney's Office will provide legal assistance and the San Diego Superior Court will convene an on-site "courtroom" Friday to address more than 900 misdemeanor cases and other legal challenges facing about 300 homeless veterans.

Veterans will be able to plead guilty to some of the charges against them and will be ordered to participate in social programs offered at the event, according to the City Attorney's Office.

The charges are generally for minor non-violent offenses such as illegal lodging, trolley violations and drinking in public.

"Legal assistance at Stand Down enables homeless veterans to see our court system as approachable and not so overwhelming," said Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard.

"It encourages veterans to address their outstanding legal matters in a supportive setting where they can also receive needed assistance, significantly assisting with their transition to re-engage into society."