The Santa Barbara County Veterans Stand Down planned for the fall has been called off due the COVID-19 restrictions.

The ninth annual event had been planned for Oct. 17 at the Santa Maria Fairpark, with organizers now aiming for the Stand Down’s return in 2021.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who founded the local event and continues to spearhead organizing it, announced the decision to call off this year’s Stand Down on Friday, but pledged the mission to support homeless veterans would continue on an individual basis. 

“Since the state and county restrictions on gatherings and events continue, we have decided to cancel Stand Down 2020 to keep attendees, providers and volunteers safe,” Lavagnino said.

“We are continuing to contact homeless vets and make sure referrals through the Stand Down Homeless Veterans Assistance Project,” he added.

Anyone who knows a veteran or family in need of help from various agencies can contact the Stand Down hotline at 805.346.8402. 

Modeled after similar events in other community, Stand Down aimed to connect homeless and at-risk veterans with a wide spectrum of services.

It is open to all veterans, but a special emphasis targets providing homeless veterans with shoes, clothing and services. 

The 2019 event helped 479 veterans, 144 of whom were homeless, according to Stand Down organizers. Some 38 of those veterans were women, with eight being homeless. 

An army of more than 600 volunteers from throughout the community makes Stand Down happen through donations, services, and in various other ways, including providing care for their pets. 

Last year’s Stand Down offered 131 services such as showers, haircuts, meals, bus tokens, medical and dental care, and more. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.