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Annual North County Veterans Stand Down underway in Vista

Posted at 11:40 AM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 15:31:53-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The annual North County San Diego Veterans Stand Down event is helping connect homeless veterans with much-needed services for the next four days.

Vans have been picking up the veterans and their families from different locations in the county and bringing them to Green Oak Ranch in Vista. About 274 attendees are expected this year.

The veterans and their families are given cabins to sleep in, meals, clothing and a variety of different services to help them physically and mentally. Pets are also welcome.

“For anybody that’s looking for peace, solace, comfort, connections, come here,” veteran Roger Smetana said as he enjoyed a warm meal with new friends. “I really love this place.”

A number of service providers are on site to give the veterans vision, medical and dental exams. Eyeglasses are made on site and given to the vets in just a couple of hours.

Veterans can also get help with legal and court services.

“We give them hope,” said Matt Foster, chairman of the North County Veterans Stand Down organization. “That’s the biggest thing they enjoy. They enjoy the fact that we’re treating them like humans. When they’re on the streets everyone is just ignoring them.”

Smetana said it’s something he has been looking forward to.

“The programs I should have been involved in nine years ago, I’m going to do this time around,” he explained. “I really need them.”

“I have some legal issues that I need to look at,” said veteran attendee John Bouis. “It’s time for me to find something for me to be more independent.”

The four-day event is also a chance for hundreds of volunteers and sponsors to give back to the men and women who bravely served our country, but have fallen on tough times.

“You served your country, now please be served,” said Smetana, encouraging other veterans to come join.

The event began Thursday and will go through Sunday. Any veteran who wants to join can just show up to the Green Oak Ranch.