PLEASANTON -- Preregistration for volunteers ends Wednesday for East Bay Stand Down 2014, a four-day event at the Alameda County Fairgrounds where homeless, needy and displaced military veterans receive services ranging from haircuts and dental care to help finding a job and a place to live.
The first event, in 1999, and the three following took place on the grounds of Camp Parks in Dublin. The next four were held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, as will the 2014 edition, Sept. 11-14.
In both spots, the Stand Down has helped homeless and at-risk veterans from the nine Bay Area counties get health, medical and dental care, legal services, housing and employment options, rehabilitation programs and access to the various benefits, earned through their military service.
Jerry Yahiro, of Danville, director of East Bay Stand Down, estimates about 3,000 veterans have received services at the nine previous Stand Down events; some have found homes and jobs thanks to the contacts they made while staying at the Stand Downs.
"I know many of them have been lifted up and stabilized and are now out on their own and getting support," Yahiro said Friday. "It makes a big difference in their lives."
Vets who attend live in the military-style "tent city" for the four-day duration. The tents are set up days ahead of time at the fairgrounds by military and civilian volunteers. Nearly 2,000 military and civilian volunteers are needed to fully staff the Stand Down, said Yahiro, a U.S. Army vet who served in Vietnam.
The East Bay Stand Down is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Command, and is also supported by grants and donations from corporate sponsors and local, civic, veterans service and nonprofit organizations, as well as private individuals.