May marks Military Appreciation Month and with Armed Forces Day on May 19 and Memorial Day on May 28, donors at Placer Community Foundation are showing their appreciation to the Armed Forces.

Grants were recently issued from the Charles and Gail Muskavitch Endowment Fund and the Community Needs Fund at Placer Community Foundation in support of Placer Veterans Stand Down, Inc., a nonprofit that hosts an annual event to support veterans of all service backgrounds who are homeless or have needs, including helping their families and pets.

This year’s Stand Down took place on May 15-17 with a magnitude of free services provided, including: dental and oral surgeries with x-rays, medical health and wellness, eye vison with free eyeglasses, massages, clothing, food, legal services, unemployment, housing assistance, haircuts, pet care, and more.

Major General Robert Hipwell, Placer Veterans Stand Down president, explained, “We are paying it back to our veterans and helping veterans get back into the community.” He shared that even veterans who didn’t have a means to get to the event were there because his team of volunteers provided complimentary transportation from various points around Northern California.

One veteran in particular who has benefited from Stand Down is E5 Hospital Corpsman Robert Elster, Jr. He was once successful and making six figures, but following the dot-com crash, he lost everything. While homeless, he learned about Placer Veterans Stand Down and when the next event approached, he was there and ready to utilize every tool and service they offered. “They provided me a tremendous opportunity,” said Elster, who explained they helped him get back on his feet with housing and healthcare. “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have much of anything,” he said. “I’m back to an employable standpoint.”

Today, Elster is back in school to become a registered nurse and for the past five years, he has been volunteering at Placer Veterans Stand Down to help other veterans who have found themselves in varying needs of support. “Homelessness doesn’t mean helpless,” he said. “I feel like I can give back today in a way I never could before. Servitude is the largest spiritual gift a person can have. Placer Veterans Stand Down put me in touch with that.”

This year Stand Down had the capacity and community support to help up to 500 veterans, and next year they hope to help even more. Grants made from the Charles and Gail Muskavitch Endowment Fund and the Community Needs Fund at Placer Community Foundation will support Stand Down’s continued efforts in 2019.

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