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Stand Down provides veteran services

Kitsap County is sponsoring its third annual Stand Down event, which will offer a wide range of free goods and services to local veterans and their families.

Stand Down is an old military term used when a front-line unit would move out of the combat zone and “stand down” for rest and recuperation, according to Human Services Planner Leif Bentsen.

During the Vietnam era, veteran and social service organizations began using the term for events where services and goods were offered to veterans.

“In these economic times, it is more important that any veterans in need have access to these services,” Bentsen said. “There are people who made tremendous sacrifices to their country who are now facing the same tough economic conditions as anyone else.”

While the event is tailored to low-income veterans, services are available to anyone who qualifies — anyone who has served at least six months on active duty and has an honorable discharge.

For faster processing, veterans should bring several copies of their DD214 or certificate of discharge. Verification of military service will be available for those who do not have DD214s or discharge papers.

Free services including clothing, hot lunch, immunization, VA claims, emergency blankets, haircuts, counseling, eyeglasses, enrollment in VA health programs, and dental work in a mobile dental van are among the services that will be offered.

Bentsen said that National Guardsmen and Reservists who have served in Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom or awarded a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal should attend to see about special benefits through the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.

Vietnam Veterans who have cancer or diabetes may also be eligible for special benefits.

Participating organizations include Women Veterans of America, Kitsap Mental Health, DSHS, state and federal departments of veterans affairs, Marine and Navy leagues, Kitsap County Dental Society, Kitsap County Oral Health Coalition, Peninsula Community Health Services, Kitsap County Health District Immunization Clinic, and the Kitsap County Veterans Advisory Board.

The event is underwritten by the Kitsap County Veterans Assistance Program and the Kitsap Area Veterans Alliance. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 1 in the Presidents Hall, Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

For more information contact Bentsen, (360) 337-4883 or lbentsen@co.kitsap.wa.us.

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