Manny Dume, our Director of International Relations, traveled to Parlier, CA on January 23 for a very special ceremony he organized in honor of a fallen comrade. Manny served as an Army Ranger in the same company as Gilbert Alaniz Jr., who was killed in a parachute training accident January 25, 1980. While traveling on a Heart of America trip in 2013 with Chinese students, Manny took the group to visit the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Memorial in Savannah, GA. He asked project manager Sheila Dudley how to reach Gilbert's next of kin, and she told him no information was available. Manny promised her he would find and contact Gilbert's family by the 35th anniversary of the tragic accident. He fulfilled his promise, and a plan was put in motion to honor Gilbert at Parlier High School, where he graduated in 1977. The touching remembrance was attended by Gilbert’s brother, and covered by local media.The Chinese students visited Savannah while participating in what is now a Homefront Rising program that brings U.S. State Department cultural exchange guests and international university students on trips organized by veterans, their families and community leaders. Manny hopes to create a Gilbert Alaniz Jr. scholarship that would enable students of Parlier High School to join in at no cost.read more
The inimitable M.B. Lemmon set up shop at Camp Patrick inside the Los Angeles Convention Center on December 20 and 21, and snapped photos of just about everyone who stopped by. Attended by about 4000 people, it was one of the largest Stand Downs for homeless veterans ever held. The portraits Lemmon shot - including the one below with actor-writer-director Dan Frischman and Gold Star Mom Nadia McCaffrey - are downloadable for a limited time here.read more
Now that the City of Phoenix has housed all of its formerly homeless veterans, the challenge to completely end veteran homelessness nationwide by December 2015 seems more doable. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one of many public servants who have pledged to accomplish that goal. Moreover, a diverse coalition of artists, activists, nonprofits, government agencies, business groups and veterans are mobilizing to make “homeless veteran” an obsolete phrase. The Los Angeles Veteran & Family Stand Down at the LA Convention Center Dec. 20-22 is one of the most significant endeavors to advance the mission. In addition to serving an estimated 2500 veterans and their families, the gathering is a chance for service providers and other change agents to network and plot strategy for the coming months.This weekend's Stand Down is the product of a year-long organizational effort led by Ivan Mason and Nancy Wolf of U.S.VETS - Inglewood. Their tenacity and infectious enthusiasm have engendered unprecedented support from various segments of the population including Convention Center GM Brad Gessner and his world-class staff. They have generously facilitated an extraordinary opportunity for veterans and those who love them to join forces and ensure all former service members are housed as rapidly as possible.read more
Patrick McCaffrey joined the National Guard the day after the 9/11 attacks. He is the first California Guardsman in his unit to die while serving in the Iraq war. His mother Nadia has since devoted her life to housing veterans and nurturing their resurgence. 29 former service members lived in her house at various times, and Nadia helped launch several veterans communities that combine housing with supportive services and career training. She is leading the campaign to end veteran homelessness by December 2015. To carry out the mission, Camp Patrick has been established in honor of Nadia's son. With an emphasis on sustainable living, Camp Patrick functions as a mobile think tank, command center, information desk, recruitment station and incubator for our multi-faceted emergency relief effort.
Camp Patrick operated at the Los Angeles Convention Center December 20-21, 2014 as part of the Los Angeles Veteran & Family Stand Down. Gold Star Mom Nadia McCaffrey was on the scene with Homefront Rising founder Jeff Norman, architect Carl Welty and Michael Lemmon, who provided free portrait photography for all veterans and their families. Camp Patrick moves to The Vortex in January for an indefinite stay.
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