Homeless Veterans: Trying To Find Help and Hope | San Diego, California | CBSNews.com
One weekend a year, nearly a thousand military veterans assemble in a camp in San Diego. What brings them is what they have in common: they’re all homeless. The vets gather for something called “Stand Down,” started in 1988 by a soldier turned psychologist named Jon Nachison.
Then, it was an emergency response to homelessness among Vietnam vets but, all these years later, Nachison is welcoming the generation from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As we first reported last October, Stand Down is a three day campout that’s part jobs fair, part health clinic, part sobriety meeting. The name is a military term for the time when a solider can put down his weapon and stop fighting. The homeless go for a shot at redemption.
“60 Minutes” and correspondent Scott Pelley went to understand why so many people who’ve served their country find coming home so hard.
Scott Pelley was skeptical when this story crossed his desk. Three days at a San Diego camp for homeless veterans changed his mind.
It’s was a Friday morning in July when Nachison was greeting his troops as they waited in line – homeless vets and their families who had waited all night to get in.
They were literally a battalion, 947 men, women and children.
“When people come in, they’re instantly transported back to the military, a time when they wore the uniform, where they were proud, where they were walkin’ tall,” Nachison told Pelley.
“You want them to remember a time in life when they were proud of themselves,” Pelley remarked.
“I wanted to evoke that person in them,” Nachison replied.
Nachison does that by putting them inside a military-style base on a San Diego high school athletic field: 30 sleeping tents, erected by Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton.