The Veterans Village of San Diego hosted the 32nd Annual Veterans Stand Down at the end of June at the San Diego High School Athletic Field in California. The annual event is designed to connect Veterans with VA and community partner services, with a focus on homeless Veterans.
Spc. Jennifer Donovan, assigned to 144th Minimal Care Detachment, provides medical care to a Veteran during the Stand Down for homeless veterans. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho/Released)
Federal, state, county, and city leaders collaborate with community stakeholders to provide resources for America’s heroes in need of a hand up.
The San Diego Veterans Stand Down has a rich history, tracing its roots back to 1988 when it was founded by soldier-turned-Psychologist, Dr. John Nachison, as an emergency response to Vietnam Veteran homelessness. The inaugural event marked the first stand down to support Veterans and became the catalyst for Veteran stand downs across the nation.
More than 3,000 volunteers from across San Diego County, including military personnel from local bases, volunteered to set up, support, and break down the huge tent city erected to provide a safe space for Veterans during the 3-day event.
The venue provided familiarity to homeless Veterans, replicating the military environment which many of them served in, and a safe space for fellowship with other Veterans experiencing the same concerns.
Eric Faulkner from VA’s Veterans Experience Office and Navy Veteran Sandra Durbin, the FAA’s first black female air controller, served as volunteers at the event.
Veterans Village of San Diego has hosted the stand down for more than three decades and each year the event has expanded support for Veterans. More than 100 organizations across San Diego County assisted with providing services for homeless Veterans.
Some of the services provided include:
- VA Healthcare Enrollment
- VA Benefits Enrollment
- Housing and HUD/VASH support
- Mental Health support
- Family and Caregiver support
- Medical and Pharmacy Support
- Optometry and Dental Support
- Veterans Treatment Courts and legal services
- Chaplain and clergy services
- Integrative Medicine services
- Cosmetology and Barber services
- Veterinarian services
- Culinary and hygiene support services
- Attire and apparel support services
The stand down assisted more than 800 Veterans in different stages of homelessness, providing them with an opportunity to address their needs while working to provide resources to deal with the risk factors leading to homelessness. Veterans who overcame homelessness returned to support the events as Team Leaders to provide a beacon of hope for present homeless Veterans.
The last day of the San Diego Stand down was marked by a celebration, ending the event with military-style honors and graduation.
For more information on Veteran Stand Down events, please visit https://www.va.gov/homeless/events.asp.
Eric Faulkner joined the United States Navy in 1987 and served for 27 years. He is currently a Management Analyst for the Veterans Experience Office, in California.