Village for Vets Stand Down 3rd Annual event took place October 27, 2017.
It’s likely not much of a stretch to say that most everyone you and I know appreciates the men and women of our country who serve in the military. Many people have a family member who served and possibly paid the ultimate price for that service.
So when a lifelong friend (and early supporter/fan of Travel with Teri B) asked me to attend and write about the 3rd Annual Stand Down event for veterans at the VA property in Westwood, I said yes without hesitation.
Marcie Polier Swartz is an astute businesswoman, philanthropist and the founder/CEO of Village for Vets (click here for her inspiring story). She could spend more of her time tending to her magnificent produce garden and chickens at her nearby home, or traveling the world, but instead made a choice to help underserved vets, whose numbers are way too high.
Those of us who travel LA’s infamous “405” freeway (from the north valley all the way to Orange County) have no doubt passed by Wilshire Boulevard and likely noticed a large expanse of land directly west that is simply known as the “VA.” But have you ever walked the property? I really hadn’t until I attended this event with camera in hand.
For the Stand Down event (military speak for “at ease”), tents were set up offering numerous services from housing to pet care to solar panel installation to haircuts to job opportunities. It was staggering to see. It was filled with both on-site residents plus many who live independently and traveled long distances to benefit from the offerings.
Marcie had cautioned me that mostly the vets just “want to be heard,” so I was careful to strike up conversations instead of just snapping away. It was easy. The main topic of the day was the Dodgers, about which I can converse with ease (plus I was in Dodger gear as were countless others on the eve of World Series Game 3). Once we got chatting, I asked how long they served, in what capacity, and how they were doing. And I made a point to thank them for their service.
Clockwise from top left: Dressed-up volunteer, Lucy Foundation’s Pet Service Van offering free spay and neutering for pets, kitty post-treatment waiting to be picked up, Lucy Pets Operations Manager Martin Gomez.
Above: A dog gets spayed in the mobile unit; 8-year Army vet Grace holding Star who had just been treated.
Above: Angela, a 24-year Department of Defense and Army veteran, looking for job candidates to fill positions at the VA hospital. Starting salary: $37K!
Above: Room filled with donated women’s clothing offered to vets.
From upper left: Greg is a disabled 4-year vet of the Navy; getting haircuts; Jersey Mike’s subs could not compete with In-N-Out, where the line was huge!
Everything is donated — everything. Shout out to these companies.
When I left, I immediately called the hubby. “You have to come with me next year, but be prepared” knowing how he wells up at the sight of a uniform. We’ll be there. Hope you will, too. You will be moved beyond belief.
Contributed by Teri Bialosky for Travel with Teri B.