PHOENIX - Arizona Guardsmen volunteered serving dinner to homeless veterans at the Phoenix Rescue Mission here, Nov. 11.
On Veterans Day, for the third year in a row, service members from the Arizona National Guard participated in a community effort to recognize their fellow veterans who are experiencing unfortunate living situations.
"It is a tragedy to have people who served in the military to be living on the streets," said Sgt. Crystal Reidy, a public affairs specialist with the 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and a coordinator for the event. "These men should be honored all year long, but at the very least we should serve them a hot meal on Veterans Day."
It is estimated that on any given night, more than 107,000 veterans are homeless, and about 1.5 million other veterans are considered at-risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support resources, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Reidy has coordinated each year with personnel who run the Phoenix Rescue Mission and calls on her unit and other Guard members to assist with efforts.
"When I found out how many homeless are veterans I knew we could do better by our brother in arms, so I asked the soldiers of my unit if they could help out," Reidy said. "This year was the biggest year yet, with more than 15 volunteers, we served about 250 homeless people and about 115 were veterans."
Additionally, candidates from the Arizona National Guard Officer Candidate School from Classes 52 and 53 participated in the event as well.
"OCS candidates are highly encouraged to participate in as many volunteer events as possible, it shows a willingness to give back to the community," said Officer Candidate Rachelle Jones-Rowe, a candidate from Class 52. "I personally chose to attend this event because I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Veterans Day."
The event is anticipated to continue on Veterans Day in the future and is open to all Guardsmen who wish to volunteer.
Interested Guard members can contact Sgt. Crystal Reidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.