Homeless Yakima veteran on benefits fair: 'Means a lot'

Homeless Yakima veteran on benefits fair: 'Means a lot'
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A giant fair in Yakima went a long way at helping local veterans Saturday by offering everything from job help to free clothes and food.

Some veterans return home and find it hard to adjust back to civilian life while others find themselves falling on hard times with nowhere to go.

KIMA spoke with one veteran who said he struggles every day to survive.

"Get back on my feet. That's what I want to do: get back on my feet and this helps,” said Mark Hansen.

Mark Hansen was enlisted in the U.S. Army for 9 years. His time in the military took him overseas to places like Korea and Germany.

But after Hansen hung up his uniform for good he found himself struggling to make ends meet.

"When I first came back I was living with my mother and a series of unfortunate accidents took place and that's what found me homeless,” said Hansen.

With nowhere to go, Hansen turned to a group home with other homeless vets. He's now looking for a job with the help of Work Source.

The Yakima County Veterans Program said there's dozens of homeless vets like Hansen living in Yakima.

The annual Stand Down event offers a helping hand, providing everything from free clothes to medical, dental help to food and job resources.

"A lot of times veterans don't naturally find the information or reach out when they do have a need. So any veteran that walks in this door, I think, is going to find something to help them,” said Stand Down Chairman David Brown.

Brown said the event is not just for homeless vets, it’s for any veteran and their families. Many simply showed up to spend the day with long-time friends.

"The volunteers, they go out of their way to make us feel we're a part of the community, like we're back home. And, that means a lot,” said Hansen.

Event organizers say 700 veterans showed up to the 'Stand Down' event last year and expect to match if not surpass that number this year.