East Bay Stand Down 2004 Seeks Help in Aiding Veterans

Sponsored by the Concord Vet Center of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 6435 of Antioch, and other community and corporate organizations, the East Bay Stand Down 2004 will take place from August 12th to 15th at Camp Parks Training Site in Dublin, CA. This regional event will once again be held as a way of providing key support for veterans in need.

"Stand Down" is a term used during war to describe the practice of removing combat troops from the field and taking care of their basic needs in a safe area. During the East Bay Stand Down, a "tent city" will be set up to house 400 veterans and their families. At the "city," veterans will receive food, clothing, shelter, and all forms of basic care they might need. Healthcare providers will be present at the Stand Down to assist with physical and mental health care. Counselors will also be available to work with veterans regarding everything from substance abuse, to employment options, to veterans' benefits and spiritual concerns.

In total, approximately 800 volunteers, military reservists and civilians, will contribute their time and services throughout the planning and implementation of the event. All participants will be pre-registered and screened prior to admission to the event for veteran status and eligibility. The participants will be bussed in from various points throughout the Bay Area and transported to Camp Parks.

Nationally there are over 250,000 veterans in critical need of a variety of services. Within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are over 7,000 such individuals. In the Northern California area, estimates are as high as 15,000 or more. Stand Downs were created to provide a "one-stop-shop" to comprehensively help as many individuals as possible at one time.

The East Bay Stand Down is funded primarily through monetary and in-kind donations. All staff positions are voluntary and, whether you are represent a large corporation or want to participate as an individual, there are ways you can help. "Monetary donations are the most important thing," says Jerry Yahiro, director of the East Bay Stand Down and a Viet Nam veteran himself. "However, a variety of special requirements need to be addressed as well," Yahiro notes. "Part of what we're trying to provide them with are basic needs like blankets and sleeping bags. We're trying to set up an account somewhere where someone can buy a sleeping bag and have it donated to the program. We also need volunteers. On our website, www.eastbaystanddown.org, you can click on a tab that brings you to the How You Can Help page where you can fill out a volunteer form or make a donation."

Yahiro notes that all contributions provide an important service both to veterans and to the community and that all donations - from monetary help to tent sponsorships to bottled water and portable toilets - are welcome. For details, contact Jerry Yahiro at (925) 743-8850 or jyahiro@aol.com .

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