Lower attendance at Veterans Stand Down cause for optimism
BULLHEAD CITY — Pat Farrell has achieved a major step toward his goal of putting himself out of business.
Farrell is president of the Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council, which put on the Tri-State Veterans Stand Down on Friday and Saturday.
He said this is the last year for the event, which started in 2013 as a sort of triage system to connect area veterans — particularly homeless veterans — with services they urgently need.
Farrell said Friday that he was glad to see lower attendance at this year’s Stand Down, because it means that more veterans are getting their issues resolved.
The 51 booths in and near the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce building offered information on a variety of services, ranging from housing to legal aid and job skills training.
Nearby, Bullhead Community Park had an area in which homeless veterans could help themselves to clothing, sleeping mats, toiletries and other items.
Services available on the spot, along with hot meals, included assistance filing veterans benefits claims, processing of forms for replacement DD-214 forms and quick health screenings.
Farrell said he was especially glad to have hepatitis C testing at the event again.
“Last year, three people found out they had hep C,” he said. “And they got immediate treatment.”
Navy veteran Mike Collins needed a DD-214. He said the Stand Down’s key benefit is having all the services a veteran may seek in one spot.
“If you need to have things cleared up or you need to have things straightened out, this is the way to do it,” Collins said.
Dale Quinn of Vietnam Veterans of America, Mohave County Chapter 975, said that’s the goal of the vendors.
“Anything a vet needs, we help them if we can,” he said. “And we point them in the right direction if we can’t.”
Dusty Harr drove to the Stand Down from Washington state, with his service dog, Zed, in tow. Harr, an Air Guard veteran, sought assistance with job training and was referred by a veterans center in Washington.
“It’s nice having everything here in one spot,” he said. “Not having to drive from one city to another to get help.”
The Stand Down is going away, but the mission isn’t. Farrell said the JAVC plans to replace it with four annual resource fairs, one each in Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City, Kingman and Parker.
Farrell said the fairs will be smaller events focused as usual on helping veterans with their needs, but especially helping them get off the street.
“I don’t want to see any (of the) vets homeless in this county that doesn’t want to be homeless,” he said.