By Spc. Jaqueline BentonSeptember 22, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. - Veteran service providers, volunteers and Soldiers with the North Carolina National Guard came together to lend their support to the 3rd annual Bull City Stand Down, a veteran outreach event, held at the Durham County Memorial Stadium and National Guard Armory here, Sept. 20, 2013.
The stand down brought together an estimated 6,000 vendors, volunteers and veterans. All veterans were welcomed for resources such as job counseling, medical and legal assistance, housing benefits, haircuts, food, clothing, and other services.
"This event put a whole community's resources in one place such as mental care, dental care, various enrollments for programs, and brother hood," Sgt. 1st Class Leo Schnack, readiness non-commissioned officer with the 30th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and armory facility manager, said.
Schnack along with Soldiers from the 30th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, provided logistical support throughout the event.
"We provided escorts for all the VIPs and provided road blocks to ensure the safety of the estimated between six and seven-thousand veterans as they crossed the road," Schnack said.
Schnack, a Purple Heart recipient, remarked on the turnout from veterans and volunteers.
"Although a lot of our soldiers help out, many of the volunteers here have never been in the military and do it out of pure devotion to the veterans," he said. "Not only are we gaining more and more veterans every year, but more vendors come out and more volunteers as well."
Veterans in need received donated clothes, toiletries and backpacks in addition to the services offered.
"It is a good event for veterans, and the ones who come are the ones who need our help with things such as legal, health and employment resources, just to name a few," Maj. Larry Coleman, commander of the 30th BSTB, said.
The stand down has grown over the years adding more vendors and giving veterans alternative ways to access the resources they need.
"More and more people [have] become involved from the community. This event is a good opportunity for the National Guard to support both the community and the veterans of our country," Coleman said.
Supporting the community is part of the National Guard's mission.
Sgt. Jason Bowes, a human resources sergeant with the 30th BSTB, reflected on the support many veterans received in the past in comparison to today.
Bowes believes many veterans did not have this kind of support in the past and it is part of the reason why there is so much support for them now.
"This event is getting bigger and bigger every year," Bowes said. "It gives these veterans a positive outlook and shows how much the community supports them."
Bowes said he hopes it will never be taken for granted again.