Resources for veterans at today's Veterans Appreciation Fair - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Resources for veterans at today's Veterans Appreciation Fair

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TRI-CITIES, WA - Happening today is the 4th Annual Veterans Appreciation Fair and Stand Down event.

Army Veteran, Lawrence Cornelius was able to connect with resources that he needed and now, he's looking to help his fellow veterans by encouraging them to head out to the event.

Stand Down events provide everything you need taken care of right there and then: jobs, resume writing, flu shots, and getting the right benefits you need. They even give free haircuts.

"Everything is much more difficult," Cornelius said.

He joined when he was 18, and now he is 32. He's been out of the service for a couple of years, and has hit a couple of rough patches.

Cornelius hit his lowest point last winter when he was homeless living out of his truck, but then he got connected to the Columbia Basin Veterans Organization.

"They took pictures of where I was staying to verify it and told me that I could get a home," he said. "They bend over backwards to help you out, and they told me they could help me get on disability and figure my life out."

Cornelius says the Columbia Basin Veterans Organization has changed his life for the better.

"Before that I was a guy with college degrees...no resources," he explained. "I thought no one cared, everything's a mission still...I didn't realize that I had those resources. I have brothers and sisters who deserve as much as I've gotten."

Laughing through the story of his struggles, he explains how he made it through last winter living on the streets.

"I ended up living out by the Yakima River," said Cornelius. "I'd run my diesel truck for about a half hour before I went to bed and I'd dig up a hole about my body size - what we call a hasty in the military - and I'd throw my Gore-Tex gear and dig the hasty to get out of the wind and stuff 'cause it was warm the truck was hot and keep me warm...you know."

It wasn't until earlier this year that he got connected with his resources and things finally started to look up.

"They came out and took pictures of where I was staying and told me that I could get a home."

A home, the healthcare he needs, and support for his kids. 

Cornelius's outlook on life changed. Now, he wants to help bring that to the rest of the veterans in our area. If you are a vet or know a vet, tell them to head down to the Southridge Event Center today starting at 9 this morning until 3 this afternoon.

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