Advent Calendar Day 13: Veterans Village of San Diego

Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD)

(The Rev.) Bill Mahedy (d. 2011) helped me find my way into the Episcopal Church. Bill helped many others find their way. Moreover, he taught us all how to “pay it forward.” ~dan rondeau

Quote . . .Veterans Village of San Diego was founded in 1981 by Vietnam veterans who were struggling with the traumas of war and looking to enhance services from the VA that were available to them at that time.

One day in 1981, five of them were sitting around in a group counseling session, talking seriously about mounting a combat assault on the VA. They knew they would probably get arrested but they were desperate to shine a spotlight on the lack of medical and psychological care for Vietnam veterans.

As luck would have it, the facilitator of the counseling session was Father William Mahedy, who served as an Army chaplain in Vietnam. Mahedy made a suggestion to the group. “Why don’t you take this energy and do something that will really make a difference?”

The group took the suggestion to heart and formed Vietnam Veterans of San Diego to help their comrades who were sleeping on the streets, under bridges and in parks.

From this modest beginning, VVSD has evolved over the past three decades into a nationally-recognized , non governmental organization known for delivering innovative services to veterans. (From the “History of Veterans Village of San Diego”)

Mission of Veterans Village of San Diego

“Leave no one behind.”

For the rest of the story: History of Veterans Village of San Diego.

Veterans Village of San Diego Home Page. Hear what the Spirit is saying.

Advent Calendar in one place
About the Online Advent Calendar

For further reflection

What is Stand Down?

In times of war, exhausted combat units requiring time to rest and recover were removed from the battlefields to a place of relative security and safety. Today, Stand Down refers to a community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets.

VVSD organized the nation’s first Stand Down in 1988. Since then, the program has been widely replicated nationwide. Today, more than 200 Stand Downs take place across the country every year. “The program has become recognized as the most valuable outreach tool to help homeless veterans in the nation today,” according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Stand Down’s philosophy is a hand up, not a hand out. The hand up is made possible each year by the dedication of thousands of volunteers and numerous sponsors.

Meals are prepared by VFW, American Legion, VVSD, Kiwanis, and supported by the Lions Clubs, Rotary and local food distributors.

Perhaps most important of all is the feeling of safety. For the first time in possibly days, weeks or even months our homeless brothers and sisters can leave their possessions in the care of others and rest.

Stand Down is a place of miracles. Lives are changed and lives are saved. The founders of Stand Down had a dream. They made it a reality, one which continues to offer a true stand down for all homeless veterans. (from the VVSD Stand Down Page)

Stand Down – a YouTube video glimpse into Stand Down in San Diego

Photo: VVSD website

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

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