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A Stand Down for those who stood up for the country
Shawn McIntyre, of Seabeck, lost his job as a contractor a couple months ago and the Air Force veteran and his family needed help.
Like many others, McIntyre found his way to the Stand Down for Veterans Wednesday at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds President's Hall in Bremerton.
The 2008 Fall Kitsap County Stand Down for Veterans drew a crowd from all branches of military service. County commissioners, the county Veterans Advisory Board and Kitsap Area Veterans Alliance joined forces to put on the event.
Leif Bentsen, of Kitsap County Department of Personnel & Human Services, organized the Stand Down, which is hosted every six months to provide a variety of services and assistance to veterans.
"The purpose is to help veterans and there's a variety of ways to do that," Bentsen said.
McIntyre served 14 years in the Air Force. He heard about the Stand Down and decided to check it out.
"The programs that they're offering here are offering good assistance," he said.
Agencies such as U.S. Veterans Affairs, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, Kitsap Community Resources and Kitsap Mental Health Services were all on hand to provide assistance to veterans by helping them search for employment, hand out donated clothing and provide meals, among other things.
"They're really trying to help veterans," McIntyre said. "I think it's really good of them."
Medical Teams International brought its mobile dental unit to Wednesday's Stand Down to offer free dental services to veterans.
"They're out there pulling and filling (teeth) right now," Bentsen said Wednesday.
Fredda Smith, Medical Teams International clinic manager of the south Puget Sound mobile dental program, said a local health department official told her there were no adult dental services available for low income people in Kitsap County, so Medical Teams International decided to send the mobile dental unit to the Stand Down.
"It's really great that we're here," Smith said.
The dentists and hygienists from the Kitsap County Dental Society and Kitsap County Dental Hygienists Society & Oral Health Coalition volunteered their time to provide dental services.
"Everyone is here to help," Smith said.
All of the equipment inside the mobile dental unit is funded through grants and gifts to Medical Teams International. Smith said it's the same equipment found inside a regular dentist's office, just crammed into a recreational vehicle.
At 11 a.m., one hour into the Stand Down, dentists and hygienists had examined, filled or X-rayed the teeth of nine veterans free-of-charge. Smith said she anticipated seeing about 70 veterans inside the mobile dental unit Wednesday.
"We're really looking forward to coming back (to the next Stand Down)," Smith said.
McIntyre utilized the free dental services offered at the Stand Down and said many veterans in greater need than himself benefited greatly from the free clothing, food, haircuts and other services provided at the President's Hall.
"(Veterans) that don't have any kind of income ... I think (the Stand Down) is good, it's really nice," McIntyre said.
In today's tough economic times, many people are in need and "the burden falls more on local agencies for support," Bentsen said.
"We're offering services to veterans in need and all veterans have made some sort of contribution to this country," he added. "They did their duty for their country and we have to take care of them."