Local military veterans to get break from streets with Stand Down

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 21:27:11-04

The 29th annual National Stand Down kicks off Friday morning, with the event giving homeless military veterans a place to sleep and resources to help them get back on their feet.

Marines and volunteers are working to set up tents, booths and much more on the upper athletic field of San Diego High School in Balboa Park.

Thomas Ambersley camped out to get the first spot yet again this year. Most of what he has with him, including his backpack, his blanket and the clothes he is wearing, are from previous Stand Down events.

Mike Conley, who is the second in line to gain entrance, said, "Number one? He always beats me here! I live right there under the bridge, and he still beats me here!"

Ambersley has attended 21 straight years, and he told 10News, "Eating out of a Dumpster was not too thrilling, but I was lucky to find food at all."

He used to be eager to get in because he had a mouth full of rotten teeth, so he would get a couple pulled each year.

In addition to dental work, the Stand Down offers free clothes, warm showers, haircuts, legal advice and more.

"He's got nowhere to go now, so I don't know what he's going to do," Conley said. "He might stay here all year."

Without a single tooth left to pull, Ambersley is first in line this year because he wants help with housing.

"Walls to stack my movies on, electricity to plug them in and a couch to be a potato on," Ambersley explained.

This year, Housing for Heroes will be on hand. The group has helped get more than 200 vets off the streets, and they are shooting for 800 more.

"It's a good country," Ambersley said. "The best in the world."

The event is free for homeless vets and their dependents. It runs from 6 a.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Sunday at San Diego High School.

Click here to learn more about the event.