Local veterans invited to Stand Down & Resource Fair
The first annual Merced County Veterans Stand Down & Resource Fair will be held on Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Castle Commerce Center, located at 1900 Airdrome Entry in Atwater.
“We felt it important to have an event that specifically serves the needs of veterans,” said Derrick Oliveira, acting Veterans Service officer of Merced County. “This is also a call to help those experiencing homelessness. It’s the first annual because we want to show support for our veterans every year. Castle was chosen for the fair’s location because of the former air base’s rich military history.”
The day begins with an opening ceremony. American Legion Post 83 from Merced will provide the Honor Guard, and a singer will perform a rendition of the national anthem.
Mark Hendrickson, Merced County’s director of Community and Economic Development, a veteran himself, will be the keynote speaker.
“The concept of ‘Stand Down’ comes out of the Vietnam War, when troops returned to base camp to rejuvenate themselves and build camaraderie with their fellow soldiers,” Oliveira said. “Since then, the Stand Down has been geared toward providing critical services to veterans and their families, and more specifically the Stand Down targets homeless veterans to help them get on their feet.
“The Resource Fair concept is about providing services to all veterans.
“This year, we have had a positive response, and we anticipate that 50 employers and service providers will be there to offer employment opportunities and services to veterans and their family members.
“Examples of services available would be readjustment counseling, legal services, veterans services in filing claims, and VA health care enrollment.”
During the event, back packs, clothing and hygiene kits will be given out to veterans, and a complimentary lunch will be provided by the Elks Lodge in Merced.
Oliveira said, “We plan on having some music in the background to make it a fun event.
“We want all veterans to feel welcome to come to this event. We would like them to be surrounded by veteran-friendly employers and service providers, and have a good time connecting with other veterans of Merced County.”