Veterans share stories, services at Stand Down
Dave DeBoer flicked the ash off his cigar and adjusted his bright red U.S. Marine Corps’ cap.
The 2006 Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down was a picnic for DeBoer, who fought the Japanese in the South Pacific .
“I come out every year to see if I can find a few of the old buddies and maybe pick up a few odds and ends I don’t got,” said the World War II veteran from Grass Valley. “I just got an eye examination.”
DeBoer and about 100 others were sharing stories, veterans services and free barbecue chicken Friday at the Stand Down at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. The event, in its eighth year, will go again from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today for area veterans to get free legal advice, medical checkups, flu shots, clothes, food and just about anything else they need, including haircuts.
Iraq War veteran Lindsey Campbell showed up with her toddler, Ruby, hanging off her, fast asleep in a baby sling.
“I’m here just to check out what was going on and to check out about school,” Campbell said. “I’ve met other veterans and I want to see what is available for vets.”
Fellow Iraq veteran and U.S. Army Airborne member Thomas Baloga came to the Stand Down for help as well. Baloga got back to his Grass Valley home about 14 months ago, with two Purple Hearts.
“I got injured three times in the last two months I was there,” Baloga said. “I’m still dealing with migraines every day and arthritis in my knees from the road marches … I want to talk with the DAV (the Disabled American Veterans).”
“I’m also here to see the vets,” Baloga said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Dr. Alfred Gabler of Grass Valley was the optometrist giving the eye examinations. The World War II European Theater veteran also served in one of the Army’s crack parachute airborne units.
“I’ve been here every year since it started,” said the retired doctor. “The community’s been good to me, and I wanted to give something back.”
Cindy Maple coordinated the services for the Stand Down. The former social services worker for the county is now the director of Hospitality House, the community’s homeless shelter. It was through working with veterans at the county and in the homeless arena that she got involved.
In earlier years, she had to tell the homeless veterans there was nowhere for them to go in western Nevada County.
“Last year, for the first time, I could refer them to the shelter,” Maple said. “We served 19 homeless veterans last season.”
Maple had the county’s Human Services Agency van at the Stand Down, where vets were getting blood pressure and hearing tests. Inside one of the buildings, a large amount of free Army surplus and civilian clothing was available for veterans and their families.
“It’s like a giant thrift shop, but it’s free,” Maple said. Right outside the door, a barber was giving free haircuts.
Also on hand were the Sierra Family Medical Clinic, Community Recovery Resources, the county’s Veterans Service Office, Housing Department and its Library Literary Service, among many others.
According to Public Defender Tom Anderson, the veterans could also get their legal affairs taken care of there by the county. If the veterans had any warrants against them or outstanding civil cases, they could get advice on how to deal with them. Today at 11 a.m., Judge Sean Dowling will be at the Stand Down to hold court to resolve any matters he can for the veterans.
The event even brought some Vietnam veterans from the Yuba-Sutter Stand Down. Joel Gann and his wife, Kelly, brought up a load of blankets and sleeping bags for the veterans. In return, Nevada County gave them surplus winter coats.
“We do what we can,” Gann said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Know and Go
• What:: Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down.
• When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
• Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, gate 4.
• Why: To get veterans services they need.
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