How Stand Downs came into existence (from the Veterans Village of San Diego website and their Stand Down operating manual) –
In times of war, exhausted combat soldiers requiring brief periods to rest and recover are removed from the field of combat to a place of relative safety and security. The military term Stand Down is used for such an action. Homeless veterans in this country are not unlike soldiers in combat, living in the frequently hostile streets and surviving by their wits. Life on the street is both dangerous and debilitating. Every day the homeless veteran must continue to “do battle.” Adversaries of the homeless include lack of shelter, unemployment, physical and emotional disabilities, legal difficulties, substance abuse, and hopelessness. These adversaries create a self-destructive cycle leading to complete withdrawal from mainstream American society.
The first Stand Down was designed in 1988 under the auspices of the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego (VVSD) to provide coordinated, comprehensive services to homeless veterans over a three-day period at one site. This service model was designed to bridge many of the physical and psychological barriers between service providers and recipients. Primary emphasis was placed on the creation of a community in which homeless veterans are treated with respect and given the opportunity to relax, interact, and form ties with peers and volunteers while receiving much needed specific services. Stand Down has helped thousands of homeless veterans since its inception in 1988 and has been replicated in states all over the United States. There were 120 stand downs during a one year period spanning 2012-2013. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is a nonprofit organization resource for organizations such as ours to turn to for information about homeless veterans in this country.