Los Angeles LGBTQ Center hosts 'Stand Down' resource fair for veterans in need

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Sunday, September 16, 2018
LA LGBTQ Center hosts resource fair for veterans in need
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The Los Angeles LGBTQ Center held a veterans resource fair on Saturday to educate veterans over the age of 50 about benefits available to them.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles LGBTQ Center geared up for it veterans resource fair called "Stand Down" on Saturday in Hollywood.

It offers veterans over the age of 50 the opportunity to learn about housing assistance, mental health programs and medical benefits. Walgreens is also offering vets free flu shots.

Yelba Carrillo is the LGBTQ Center's Manager of Social Services. She said the "Stand Down" events held twice a year began with just 20 participants in 2011.

This year they are expecting 300 people to take part. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be among them.

Carrillo said learning about military benefits is especially important to LGBTQ veterans because many of them were forced out of service.

"When you put the veteran community and the LGBTQ community together you see double the complexities and double the need," she said.

"All veterans are welcome," Bill Duckworth, a former Marine and "Stand Down" volunteer, said. "We're not just inclusive to the LGBTQ community."

Duckworth said he spent about 20 years in the Marines before being pushed out for being gay. He said it cost him retirement benefits and eventually led to homelessness. Duckworth credits the LGBTQ Center and past "Stand Down" events for helping turn his life around.

"I'm really enjoying life and being here, being part of this center is really making that possible," Duckworth said. "If not, I'd probably be isolated, depressed, and I probably would have just moved away."

The "Stand Down" event was held at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center.