San Diego

Homeless Veterans Seek Community Support at Stand Down Retreat

"It is saying I am with you. I am a part of you, and I am not afraid to shake your hand," said Glover

Hundreds of homeless veterans attended the 30th annual Stand Down event in San Diego Friday to seek support from the community.

The three-day program offered comprehensive services, aiming to help veterans get off the street and reintegrate into the community. The Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) has been hosting their annual Stand Down event for 30 years, with the hope of guiding veterans towards a new beginning.

Stand Down was held at the San Diego High School on the 1400 block of Park Boulevard.

VVSD and the community helped provide the veterans with a food tent, showers, barbers, makeovers, medical, dental, optical services and more. Hundreds of volunteers and vendors were helping with Stand Down.

Even in the midst of all these resources, some veterans were struggling with anxiety. One female veteran who has been on the streets for 10 days, Lisa DiCarlo, told NBC 7 she is desperate to find help.

"It's mean out there," said DiCarlo. "It's cruel out there. I am a 60-year-old woman. I am fresh meat out on the street. I live in fear of getting raped."

Organizers said they saw lower numbers of homeless veterans attending the event compared to last year. That may be an indication this support system is having an impact.

"There are a lot of veterans that are here," noted DiCarlo. "There are a lot of veterans that are homeless. I wonder if there is enough help for all of us."

An entire support network works together to put on this event. One volunteer is well known in the community for helping at Stand Down for the past 30 years. 

Bill Glover has been in charge of organizing breakfast since the event was first created. For 30 years, he has been the first smiling face veterans see when they arrive at Stand Down.

He's stepping down from the job at age 82, but said this experience has left him with a lasting appreciation for the human touch.

"It makes me feel good because again, it is that human touch," said Glover. "It is saying I am with you. I am a part of you, and I am not afraid to shake your hand."

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