U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives congratulating John Van Kuren and Dr. Robert Nachison for devising the program to help homeless Vietnamese veterans that grew into the National "Stand Down" program.
In 1988, Nachison— who, like Davis, is a member of San Diego's Jewish community—teamed up with Van Kuren to create a three-day event "to bring together the resources veterans would need to turn their lives around for the better," Davis told her House colleagues on March 7. "Their vision brought food, shelter, counseling, drug and alcohol treatment all in one place."
The congresswoman quoted Nachison as saying that he thought that original "Stand Down" would be a one-time event. "He had no idea that within a few years, almost every major city in the United States would stage its own Stand Down or similar event."
"Since then, thousands of homeless veterans across the nation have received the assistance they need and have escaped the streets because of the assistance at Stand Down."
Noting that she attends Stand Down in San Diego's Balboa Park each summer, Davis told her House colleagues the story of Navy veteran Johnny Bonds, one of many veterans who had "the courage to seek help."
Bonds, she said, "began to drink heavily and became an alcoholic by the time he left the service.
Mr. Bonds was separated from his wife and young daughter as the drinking began to take its toll.
"He lived for six years on the streets in Southern California and continued to drink heavily. In
1996, he attended the annual Stand Down in San Diego seeking food and shelter for the night. He had no idea Stand Down would completely change his life.
"Over the three days, he learned of a drug and alcohol treatment program administered by the Vietnam
Veterans of San Diego. He enrolled and completed the program within a few months.
"Mr. Bonds, now 52 years old, has been sober for years and never again spent one night on the
streets. He has maintained a full-time job. He was also reunited with his daughter after 20 years apart. Today, he visits her on a regular basis."