The annual Kern County Veteran Stand Down is a tradition designed as a one-stop-shop where all our veterans can come in and enjoy many services like haircuts, medical exams and legal advice.
Although it is open to the veterans in our community, their main focus is helping those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Richard Shriver was one of the hundreds of veterans who took part in yesterday's celebration.
After serving our nation a total of 14 years, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I just wasn't the same me. I didn't want to be around. I didn't want to live," Shriver said.
Ready to give up after getting diagnosed with throat cancer and becoming homeless, what saved his life was stumbling upon an abandoned puppy at a store. He nursed her back to health and so did she.
"She's like your battle buddy. She won't leave you behind," Shriver said.
30 percent of soldiers develop mental illnesses within three to four months after being home. Dark memories from their time served, Richard said, are triggered from the most simple things, like loud noises and certain smells.
Many turn to alcohol after losing their routine.
"Yeah you get drunk but you get up the next day and you're up at 0430 hours you're in formation... here you have the right to call into work and say you know what I'm sick I got the flu... In the military you can't do that. You can't call in and say 'hey I'm not gona make formation today,'" Shriver said.
Shriver is now waiting to have surgery later this month to treat his throat cancer. He is hopeful and full of pride for having served America.
"I would give my life for it today still," Shriver said.