Navy veteran Mike Stevenson of Coeur d’Alene wrangled his wily German wirehaired pointer mix Curry as Dr. Amber Clark prepared to listen to the young dog’s breathing with her stethoscope.
Stevenson’s older dog, Annis, was fed a couple treats by Clark’s daughter, Ella, 12, as the calmer canine patiently waited her turn to be checked over by the veterinarian.
“That just brings me tears, really,” Stevenson said. “They are so much love, and these guys provide the service.”
Stevenson has been taking his dogs to the North Idaho Veterans Stand Down for a few years; he and his pups are familiar friendly faces for the vets and staff of Doc Holly Pet Vet in Hayden, where Clark practices. Their office has provided free services to veterans’ pets at the Stand Down for at least the past three events.
“We’re just really glad that we’re able to be here and give back to the veterans for everything that they have done for us,” said Doc Holly Pet Vet office manager Annette Daline.
The 26th annual North Idaho Veterans Stand Down, presented by St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho, was held at North Idaho College and featured more than 70 vendors that provided consultations, goods and services free of charge to military veterans of North Idaho and the region.
“Every year I get my 1-year haircut, honest,” Stevenson said. “I get an annual haircut.”
Army veteran Rich Peterson said “Ahh!” as he received a complimentary dental screening from Dr. Brett Matteson of Lakeview Dental Clinic, who is also a veteran. Peterson said he usually comes to the Stand Down every year early in the day to enjoy the event and the social time.
“It actually fills a great need for a lot of veterans,” he said. “We come over because you get a chance to say hi to a lot of other veterans.”
“Stand down” is a term used for when soldiers and military members take a necessary mental and physical break from combat in a safe place before returning to the front lines. The North Idaho Veterans Stand Down invites vets to have a couple meals, gather new supplies and just be taken care of for a day. About 100 volunteers helped the event run smoothly.
Stand Down and St. Vincent de Paul veteran services coordinator Eric Swanbeck said at least a couple hundred veterans came through this year’s event.
“We still have veterans who are homeless, and to me, the most important are the ones who are struggling,” he said. “We have people who are in housing, they maybe just don’t make enough with their job and they struggle to pay their rent or their utilities. If they’re struggling and then they get hit with something, something happens, something medical, an emergency that wipes them out, and so there’s all different kinds of services they need that just can help them get back on their feet.”