OAKHURST – All area veterans are invited to a family-style stand down on Saturday, May 21 at Sierra Pines Church in Oakhurst, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. It’s sponsored by Caring Veterans of America, Inc. — the organization’s motto is “veterans helping veterans.”
The upbeat day offers fellowship, free hot food, gear, entertainment, assistance with VA matters including registration, health care, claims, and legal advice.
With music by the band Crossroads, and niceties such as haircuts provided by generous local barbers, organizers will also have benefit advisors on hand to provide guidance for any vet who wants it. Employment and resource information will be available, also. Veterans should bring their Military Identification or DD214 Form.
For more information on this or any other local stand-down, contact Caring Veterans of America Commander Terry Cole by phone (559) 760-5056. Commander Cole is a founding member of the Caring Veterans of America.
The former combat engineer and paratrooper, Sp. 5/ 101st Airborne Division, was in Vietnam from 1966 – 68. He is always surprised at how much the word needs to get out about what’s available for those who need it.
New for this Oakhurst stand down is the anticipated presence of Madera County District Attorney David Linn. If a veteran has issues with the Madera County court system, this may be a good place to start to get things straightened out. “Our courts’ agendas are overloaded,” reads a flyer for the event. “Incarceration facilities are full. D.A. Linn and staff will be present, in a semi-private setting, to assist you in resolving your issues. Assurances from D.A. Linn: ‘This is not a sting operation, you will not be arrested.'”
Caring Vets Stand Down coordinator Brandon Murray served with the 1st Cavalry Division/HHC Scout Platoon. He offers understanding on why these stand downs and other efforts toward helping veterans are so important.
“We believe a lot of veterans aren’t getting the services they need or that they’re not going in to get the services they need. At these Stand Downs, things are a lot more at home and relaxed,” says the Gulf War veteran. “We organizers are veterans. We have the same issues and the same problems, so we understand.”
Brandon Murray can be reached at (559) 676-8463.
Meanwhile, be on the lookout for gun raffle tix the group is offering. $5 each ticket gives those interested a chance at one of three prizes, including a Savage 3006 rifle, a CZ 12-gauge shotgun, or a Kimber 45 pistol. Tickets will be offered on select days at True Value, Von’s, and Grocery Outlet in Oakhurst. Winners will be announced on July 2 at the Miner’s Grill in Coarsegold Village, during the Veterans’ Car Show. Call Terry for tickets as needed: (559) 760-5056.
The term “stand down” is used in the military to refer to a time when spent combat units require and are allotted time to rest and recover from battle, in a safe and secure environment. In the case of the Oakhurst Stand Down, and others like it across the nation, the words apply to community-based programs meant to help homeless and at-risk veterans get the supplies and services needed to survive stateside. California is home to about 1.7 million veterans.