CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Central Valley Veterans Stand Down offers free vet services to hundreds of veterans each year and made its return in Clovis on Monday.
Vets from Fresno to Porterville and beyond came out for the first day of the two-day event for things like food, clothes, DMV services, and a whole lot more.
The goal of the yearly resource extravaganza, held this year at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, is to increase access to vital services for all vets.
A system that organizers say is proven to have turned veteran lives around.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of success stories. I mean, we’ve had veterans that I’ve met 15, 20, 25 years ago that were on the streets, that now have (or) own businesses,” said John Schuler, director of the Central Valley Veterans Stand Down.
Schuler, a 25-year Army vet himself, says the purpose of stand down is to bring services directly to veterans.
The first was in 1989.
Fast forward to 2023, it’s bigger and better than ever.
“Everything you could possibly think of is in this building. We have full medical, we have full dental, and full ophthalmology. We have court,” said Schuler. “The DMV is here, the VA is here,” he added.
There was also free food, clothes, jobs, and housing services, and you can’t forget about a little off the top.
“The one thing I was really looking for today was a haircut. That’s the hardest thing for me to come by,” said Steven Brixey, a US Army veteran.
Brixey, who we caught up with in line for his haircut, said the stand-down really brought everything he needed under one roof.
However, he says he had no idea what services were available for people like him.
It’s a harsh reality for many of the over 500 vets in attendance.
“When I got out of the military, I didn’t look back. So, I was glad I did it and was glad I got out, until later on in life. And then things happened. There’s things that like, I didn’t know I was a veteran until someone made me apply for benefits,” said Brixley.
Organizers say with these events — they hope to turn that trend around.
Stand Down runs for two days, and will conclude around 5 p.m. Tuesday.