Submitted by the Silver Strand Chapter
The Silver Strand (Calif.) Chapter provided backpacks to more than 200 homeless and struggling veterans during the 2023 San Diego Veterans Stand Down at the Pechanga Arena in July.
The Stand Down supported over 400 veterans and their families who are dealing with homelessness and other struggles. The range of support available at the event included VA care, medical care, referrals to housing solutions, referrals to substance abuse and mental health counseling, access to court (to clear outstanding minor warrants), job training, clothing donations, and many other areas of supportive services during the three-day event. All this is support provided in a dignified and safe setting with security and professional caregivers that reflect the spirit of the veterans’ previous military connections.
The veterans who received one of the donated backpacks from the chapter completed all three full days (and nights) of the Stand Down. The backpacks serve to help the veterans keep their items organized and consolidated as they work through supportive services.
Members of the chapter volunteered at the Stand Down events, including engaging with the veterans to better understand their situation and what support is needed to help and distributing the backpacks during the graduation ceremony.
“It was an honor to interact with the veterans during the Stand Down,” Capt. John Clausen, USN (Ret), chapter secretary, who helped to distribute the backpacks. “There are countless reasons why veterans may need support such as this, but they all served in uniform and deserve to be offered support and encouragement that will hopefully point them in a direction to ensure a stable and productive future.”
The backpacks also serve to remind these veterans that their fellow veterans care about them and that they are still a member of the military community.
The chapter’s support was made possible thanks to volunteers and a Community Outreach Grant from The MOAA Foundation of $4,500 combined with donations of more than $1,000 from chapter members.
“The gratitude from the veterans at Stand Down as they received their backpacks was palpable not only because of the gift but more so because this gift represents that the military and veteran community still cares about them,” said Clausen.