More than 20 years ago, Ventura County resident Claire L. Hope visited a veteran’s aid event in Long Beach, Calif., where she was inspired by the degree of free help local legal and health care professionals were happy to give our nation’s homeless heroes.
The next year, in 1993, Hope both founded and organized the first Ventura County Stand Down where for two decades her organization has provided meals and critical services to hundreds of veterans from across the Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles counties.
To ensure this year’s stand down was as successful as those held in the previous years, more than 20 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 were called upon to setup and breakdown 13 large-size tents each able to house 12 homeless veterans each.
“The Seabees are always willing to help” said Hope during the first day of set up. “They are a wonderful group of professionals.”
From July 26-28, hundreds of former service members from all military branches came to receive free health and life management services, and a break from the environment.
“The Army changed my life,” said Korean War veteran and six-year American Red Cross volunteer Carl Bohming. “[The Ventura Stand Down] is a little something you can do to give back.”
Since the start of the Ventura County Stand Down, civilian and veteran volunteers have dedicated their time to help those in need. More than 300 volunteers provided meals, safety, security, optometry, dental, physical rehabilitation, legal services, showers and even haircuts to veterans who would otherwise go without. Donations, such as clothes and toiletries, were donated from local businesses and private citizens.
Connie Biggers of the American Legion Auxiliary has been a volunteer of the Ventura County Stand Down for 10 years. Her volunteer service is defined by a personal acronym, “PASS” – Pride, Attitude, Service and Support.
Biggers said she was honored to be a part of such an experience among men and women that gave their time in the service.
“They are very polite, very gracious and it is an honor to be with them,” said Biggers while looking out over the crowd. “We owe them eternally.”
NMCB 3 provides commanders and Navy component commanders with combat ready warfighters capable of general engineering, construction and limited combat engineering across the full range of military operations.