Yuba-Sutter Veterans Stand Down Underway

MARYSVILLE -- Veterans from nearly 20 counties are expected to converge on Riverfront Park in Marysville this weekend for the area's signature event to bring services to veterans.

While Stand Down events draw many veterans, Marysville's homeless population is scrambling after campsites along the Yuba River were closed and cleaned up after sanitation issues made sites unhealthy.

The challenge has always been to get homeless veterans to seek services.

"Many of them don't know the services that are here or that they need help in one area of another," said Congressman John Garamendi, who attended the opening ceremonies of this year's Stand Down.

About 60 organizations set up booths or tables to aid veterans, which included medical tests, VA services, food and clothing.

Some are regulars at such events like Viet Nam era marine veteran Tony Fleshman, who brought his family to have lunch picnic style. He has taken advantage of veterans services through 15 Stand Downs.

"I'm proud and grateful for everything they do here," said Fleshman.

While attracting homeless vets is a spotty proposition, especially those who are mentally ill or choose the homeless lifestyle, organizers feel if they can help one veteran whose issues are often service related, it is worth it.

Witness Brian Kohler, who is the supply manager for the event. He was homeless five years ago when a fellow vet convinced him to come to the Yuba-Sutter Stand Down. He eventually got help in dealing with social security red tape and took advantage of other services and is no longer homeless.

"That's the success for me, if we can help one person or 20 people just by coming through these lines and coming to these Stand Downs, that's all the reason to do it more," said Kohler.

The Stand Down continues through Saturday. The Yuba-Sutter Stand Down organization is one of the few that also operates from an office year-round to provide services to veterans.