At the Stand Down 

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Photo by Alexander Woodard
John Grobey, 82, grew up in Everett, Washington, and entered the Navy in 1954, serving seven years of active duty stationed in the Pacific, mostly as a member of the Navy Seal underwater demolition team. He then served 11 years in the Navy Reserve. Grobey, who lives in Arcata and is a member of the Mad River Honor Guard, came to Stand Down to take part in the flag-raising ceremony.
Photo by Alexander Woodard
"To me, it's an honor and a privilege to work with people who went through that hell [of war]. I find it a satisfying way to continue my service."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
Daniel O'Leary, 63, grew up in Minnesota and joined the Navy in 1973, serving for four years and conducting six patrols on the 641 Blue Crew aboard the nuclear submarine USS Simon Bolivar. He came to Stand Down to see what amenities were available, and "to communicate with people, for the encouragement of others, to sympathize with others." O'Leary lives in Manila.
Photo by Alexander Woodard
He said he needs a "support group, an outside assessment, an evaluation of your ability to contribute to society."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
Ed Castillo, 56, grew up in San Jose and joined the Army in 1975 and served three years stationed in Germany. He attends Stand Down every year with his wife and kids. Castillo said he attended because he was leaving Oct. 5 for San Francisco, where he enrolled in a three-month post traumatic stress program. Castillo lives in Eureka.
Photo by Alexander Woodard
"I'm looking for some residential help. I'm looking for clothing. For some referrals to some legal matters and for some educational matters. ... It's so good to see other veterans here."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
Dave Sang, 71, was born in Denver, Colorado, and joined the Army in 1965, serving four years stationed in California's Fort Ord and Louisiana's Fort Polk. He lives in Eureka, and came to Stand Down for a haircut and some dental work.
Photo by Alexander Woodard
"I'm trying to get a job as a salesperson, and nobody will hire me; so I need my teeth fixed. ... I'm going to stay 'til the last dog is hung. ... Hey, [he asks several people], what do you put in your spaghetti sauce?"
Photo by Alexander Woodard
John Harris, 60, was raised in downtown Cleveland and joined the Navy in 1980, serving one year stationed at Great Lakes. Harris, who is homeless in Southern Humboldt, said he came to Stand Down to see if he could get his less-than-honorable discharge reversed but "they're saying it can't be changed." He said he left the service after the Iran Hostage Crisis, which he thought was a sham to get Ronald Reagan elected president. "I seen it was phony," he said.
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"I need the [discharge] changed so that I can get assistance to get me off the street. You've got no idea what it's like out there. All these mad tweekers running around, doing whatever the hell they want, stealing constantly. ... All these trashy people come in, they get drunk, and they start trouble with the locals and the locals want to beat up on people. ... All I know is, if I get attacked by one of these guys, I'm going off. Flat out going off. That's why I need to get off the street."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
Douglas Hutchinson, 46, grew up near Bloomington, Indiana, and joined the Army in 1985, serving for nine years stationed at Georgia's Fort Gordon and Fort Benning, Texas' Fort Sam Houston, and Camp Humphreys in Korea. Hutchinson, who lives in Eureka, said he came to Stand Down because "it's about the only time of year that I see some of these people: other veterans."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
He said he needs "to get information on veterans' benefits — for me, and for my son who will be going to College of the Redwoods. He can get a tuition waiver because I'm a disabled veteran hurt in the line of duty. That was in 1993. I had planned on going for 25 years ... but I had a disagreement with a parachute and smashed my head; smashed all over. That's why I'm in this chair."
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Emma Derry, 65, grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, and entered the Army in 1970, serving three years stationed in Alabama's Fort McClellan and Massachusetts' Fort Devens. Now living in McKinleyville, Derry said she attended Stand Down to get help. "I have PTSD and ADHD. I suffered military sexual trauma at Fort Devens. And in basic training in Alabama I was exposed to Agent Orange that was made in a chemical plant nearby in Anniston. It got in our water, it got in our food. ... I just received 100 percent disability."
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"I wish I didn't have to suffer with what I have now. My teeth are breaking off. I have balance problems. I get these rashes. I swell up. ... I'm getting my blood pressure done, eye tests, help with paperwork. And Reiki massage. It's the craziest thing: This man doing the massage said, 'Do you know your body stores everything that happens to you? All the trauma?'"
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Ken Curzon, 43, grew up in the Mattole and entered the Navy in 1991, serving three years, mostly in Dubai for the Gulf War. Now living in Blue Lake, Curzon said he attended Stand Down "to see the services they offer, and for dental. And I got a free haircut. And Reiki. And lunch."
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"I went to see the woman in the Department of Veterans Affairs service office in the county courthouse. She refused to write up a request for benefits. She deemed my request not viable. So I did it myself and got 10 percent disability. I need her to participate. I need professionalism."
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Tonja Engel, 62, grew up in Santa Maria, California, and entered the Navy in 1972, serving nine years stationed in Japan, Hawaii, Italy, Iceland, the Philippines and Washington, D.C. Now homeless in Roseburg, Oregon, living in a women's mission, Engel attended Stand Down with her sister (Lynn McCracken, of Fortuna) to find out about services for homeless veterans.
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"I need affordable housing. And information on employment. ... As we age, there aren't a lot of jobs available. I have disability from the Veterans Administration, and I'm grateful for the health care. ... That's the thing about the military: You get hurt even in times of peace. You don't have to be in a war zone."
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Lynn McCracken, 59, grew up in Santa Maria, California, and joined the Marines in 1974, serving five years stationed at South Carolina's Parris Island and North Carolina's Camp Lejeune. McCracken, who now lives in Fortuna, said she came to Stand Down mainly to "hang out with other veterans" and thank them for their service.
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"There's a lot of things I need. I got a Bible for my grandbabies. And I try to keep on top of the services available to veterans. I like the Reiki; I've had my neck fused — C1, C2 and C3. ... What I would love to see is the Veterans Administration come up with preventative medicine. Instead of narcotics for pain, why can't we have massage? Because, oh my God, it costs so much."
Photo by Alexander Woodard
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Photo by Alexander Woodard
John Grobey, 82, grew up in Everett, Washington, and entered the Navy in 1954, serving seven years of active duty stationed in the Pacific, mostly as a member of the Navy Seal underwater demolition team. He then served 11 years in the Navy Reserve. Grobey, who lives in Arcata and is a member of the Mad River Honor Guard, came to Stand Down to take part in the flag-raising ceremony.

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