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‘Heroes in the Shadows’

-Courtesy Photo

-Courtesy Photo

– Five Day Veterans Job Fair Honors the Fallen and Provides Services for the Living

With the close of Memorial Day events, one continues with a weeklong event dedicated to honoring the fallen while serving the living. Presented by The Vet Hunters Project, in conjunction with the City of Pomona, the fourth annual “Heroes in the Shadows” San Gabriel Valley Homeless Stand Down kicked off yesterday with more than 400 attendees. The five day event runs through Friday May 29, 2015 at the Pomona National Guard Armory located at 600 South Park Avenue in Pomona.

On Wednesday, May 27, the event featured a Veteran Job Fair presented by the Employment Development Department. In the morning, seven cars were donated to deserving Veterans in need, marking the most amount of vehicles donated by the Vet Hunters in a single Day.

Expecting to accommodate a record-breaking close to 2,000 people in need this year, veterans and those in need are hosted to a wide-range of free services, information and support. Unique that it does not turn anyone away based on criteria such as area of residence, gender and Veteran Status, the Stand Down moved to Pomona this year so that it is centrally located to attract a greater number of attendees from more areas including the San Gabriel Valley, the Inland Empire and San Bernardino County. Transportation to and from the event is available from LA County.

-Courtesy Photo

-Courtesy Photo

Daily on-site accommodations are provided for sleeping quarters, showers, laundry facilities, food, entertainment, personal grooming and wellness among others. There is also a designated women’s retreat area. Daily meals are provided by Celebrity Chef’s Two Guys Grilling. Counseling, assistance and services provided include Navigating VA issues, Employment, Education, Claims, Housing, On-site Dental, Medical and Vision, Legal, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Support, Substance Abuse and Mental Health help and more.

Among those on-site to provide immediate assistance are the Veterans Administration and Vet Center’s mobile units as well as members from the Department of Public Social Services to assist with immediate benefits screening.

Unlike other similar Stand Down events throughout Southern California that rely on government grants to fund their operations — which could limit the types of services and populations served) — “Heroes In The Shadows” is made possible through personal and organizational donations and sponsorships.

The Vet Hunters tirelessly work to combat Veteran Homelessness by utilizing a no red tape method, with little to no government grants. In addition to Gunnery Sergeant Ernesto Aquino, this year’s list of valued partners and sponsors at the 2015 Stand Down include VA Healthcare, EDD – Employment Development Department, DOR – the Department of Rehabilitation, Vet Center, Cal Vet – the California Department of Veterans Affairs, American Red Cross, America’s Center, Goodwill Southern California, Volunteers Of America, TRI CITY and Covina based Hye Tech Auto.

The Vet Hunters Project is a San Gabriel Valley based non-profit that was founded by Joe Leal, an Iraq combat veteran and tireless advocate for America’s homeless heroes.

Together, with a dedicated and determined army of Vet Hunters, Leal is shedding light on a population that oftentimes tries to remain hidden while changing the lives of hundreds of underserved and neglected veterans across the country.  His team conducts daily search and rescue missions of our displaced veterans throughout the country and connects them to the resources and knowledge they need by bringing it to where they are, whether it be on the streets, by railroad tracks, under bridges or in broken down cars. More information can be found at www.vethunters.org  or on Facebook at The Vet Hunters Project.

 

May 26, 2015

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