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Alvarado Hospital employees recently volunteered at the 2013 Stand Down San Diego held in mid-July. The annual, three-day event provides medical services, counseling, legal services, warm meals and more for homeless military veterans and their families on the grounds of San Diego High School.

Jon Nachison, PhD, chief of psychology at Alvarado’s sister facility Paradise Valley Hospital, founded Stand Down 25 years ago. It grew out of Nachison’s and cofounder Robert Van Keuren’s conviction that the overwhelming number of homeless veterans on the streets of America is unacceptable, and that the veteran community itself must respond.

As a result of their efforts, more than 200 Stand Down programs modeled after the San Diego program have sprung up around the country—changing hundreds of thousands of lives. In fact, Stand Down San Diego was profiled on "60 Minutes” in 2010 and 2011.

"This annual event, supported by the Veterans Village of San Diego, is a reminder that these vets are part of something bigger than themselves, part of a community,” Nachison said. He is most proud of the veterans who have used the opportunity to turn their lives around, and then return each year as volunteers to support other vets.

Most of the hospital employees volunteered at the Alvarado Hospital/Paradise Valley Hospital-sponsored women’s activities tent aimed at female veterans and their dependents. Tent activities included Zumba, yoga, beading, journaling, self-defense, relaxation/meditation and acupuncture. Employees also donated jeans, shirts, socks and shoes for the clothing tent.

"Those who choose to go into healthcare do so because it is a calling to help others,” said Alvarado Hospital Administrator Robin Gomez. "Yet I am always gratified when I see our staff trying to make a difference in people’s lives both inside and outside of our hospital walls.”

Pictured L to R: Jody Riley, Donna Smith, Bridget Heaton and Sherilyn Fagan