California Town Stages Fair For Veteran Support

Volunteer cooks for veterans.

After serving two tours in the Vietnam War -- where he was shot twice and now suffers from the effects of Agent Orange and post-traumatic stress -- Fairfield resident Ernie Schnaible was sent packing after he returned to American soil. He wasn't given benefits and was left do deal with impacts of the war on his own.

This all changed for the 59-year-old when he came to the North Bay Stand Down, where he has since received a substantial amount of back pay and veterans benefits.

"If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have any of it," Schnaible said as he looked out over the hundreds of veterans sitting down for lunch at the Dixon May Fair grounds.

He explained that it wasn't long ago that he was staying at Mission Solano, a homeless shelter in Fairfield, had his driver's license taken away and was drowning in traffic tickets. But now, the recovering addict is doing it all, has a job with the shelter and is living on his own -- and doing it all with only one leg.

"I do everything a normal person does," he said pointing to his prosthetic. "Now it's my turn to give back."

At the stand down, County judges are on hand to handle legal matters. The event also includes local community, county and Veterans Administrations benefits, services and resources for returning Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, families of those still serving overseas, the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the country and homeless veterans who served their country honorably.

Bay Area resident Mack West, 65, is a Vietnam War veteran and is just one of the hundreds of veterans already benefiting from the stand down. He said he signed up for dental care, and financial and housing assistance.

The veterans also have the mobile Sacramento Vet Center available to them. Veterans attending the event will receive numerous donated items that include blue jeans, underwear, a backpack, rain ponchos, hygiene kits, socks, boots and a sweatshirt.