Citizens and civilians often show their appreciation and respect for veterans and active-duty members by standing up in acknowledgement of their service and sacrifice.
Now a group of local veterans is returning the sentiment by standing down for fellow vets with an upcoming East County event. Stand Down on the Delta is a four-day encampment hosted by the Delta Veterans Group (DVG) and will be held at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch from Aug. 11 to 14.
Designed to provide critical services to homeless and at-risk veterans, the event will offer food, shelter, legal services, addiction counseling and hygiene services in addition to medical, dental and vision care. Veterans will also be provided the opportunity to connect with and feel part of the local veteran’s community.
“Veteran homelessness for both male and female veterans is rising,” said Steve Todd, commander of the Brentwood VFW Post 10789. “Stand downs have made a positive impact on the veterans that I have met that were past recipients. I think it gives homeless veterans and at-risk veterans the opportunity to feel the support of the community and to let them know we care. The DVG has done an awesome job getting this program going in East Contra Costa County.”
J.R. Wilson, founder and president of the DVG, is the driving force behind the event. After four years in the Army, Wilson went to work supporting disabled veterans. He was introduced to the stand-down concept while working in the national office of the Disabled American Veterans where the first stand down was held in the ’80s.
After moving back to East County, Wilson recognized a need to provide services for homeless veterans in the area, and he founded the DVG to launch the Stand Down on the Delta. It’s a biannual event that started in 2015 and provided services for 356 veterans and family members in its inaugural year. Wilson said he expects to serve approximately 400 vets this year.
Wilson is quick to acknowledge that putting on an event of this magnitude would not be possible without the help and support provided by many veteran groups and service organizations from Brentwood, Oakley, Antioch and Pittsburg.
Even with the generous support already committed to the event, Wilson is still seeking additional help.
“We definitely need volunteers, especially at setup and tear down,” Wilson said. “Everybody wants to go to the event and volunteer during the four days. We have to set that up. We start Monday, Aug. 7, and we go all the way until Friday, at 9 a.m.”
Wilson went on to describe the goal of the stand down.
“We try to get that participant to make that complete cycle and come back and volunteer and serve their community in whatever capacity that they can,” he said. “It’s not a handout. It’s a hand up.”
For more information or to volunteer, visit www.deltaveteransgroup.org.