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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Marines erect tents; homeless vets file in

By Pfc. Macario P. Mora Jr. | | July 11, 2003

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Joseph Julian is a former Camp Pendleton Marine who served in Vietnam. His career field while enlisted - intelligence.

Julian still conducts intel by night. He scouts for a place to sleep.

Julian is homeless.

But he took a vacation from looking for a bed last weekend. That's because community members - including Marines from the same base he used to prowl - built him a place to stay.

"I'm just happy to be here," Julian said, standing amid a tent city next to a line of homeless vets seeking employment as part of the 16th annual San Diego Vietnam Veterans of San Diego Stand Down. "What they're doing is great, and I'll be here every year, until hopefully someday I don't have to be."

Roughly 80 Camp Pendleton Marines, along with sailors from Camp Pendleton and San Diego, volunteered to help approximately 500 hundred homeless veterans in the weekend outreach July 11 through 13 at San Diego High School. More than 75 service agencies and close to 3,500 volunteers took part, according to Ron Stark, an event organizer.

Capt. Mimi Cottrell, a native of Las Cruces, N.M., and an Inspector Instructor for Marine Wing Support Squadron 473, Marine Aircraft Group 46, said the Pendleton-based Marines were there since Monday, setting up military-style tents and camouflage netting.

"I set it all up and wanted to see the finished project," said Cpl. Christopher B. Bevers, a native of Fort Worth, Texas and a reservist with MWSS-473, who was still on hand Friday. "I wanted to see the work we did."

Bevers is part of a Fort Worth reservist group activated Feb. 13. The group volunteered the whole week to set up tents. Bevers also volunteered over the weekend to see how well their work held up.

Stark, a retired Navy sonar man, coordinated logistics from start to finish.

"I'm the do-stuff guy - anything that comes up, I fix it," said Stark, a native of Neosho, Mo.

Service agencies taking part included the American Legion, Saint Vincent DePaul and agencies involved in drug-abuse and employment counseling, he said.

The tent city included medical and dental services for the homeless as well as barbers and other quality-of-life resources, Stark added. Legal specialists provided help to those with warrants for minor "infractions" such as loitering, said Stark.

"We're helping them with alternative sentencing," said Stark. "We don't want them to just get off, but doing something similar to what we do, like picking up trash to pay a parking ticket."

The homeless veterans also were treated to live entertainment.

Organizers also stored vets' belongings.

"Any resources the homeless needed, they were provided ..." said Stark.

Inside their tent homes, the veterans assumed a pseudo-military lifestyle, Stark said. Homeless "squad leaders" were appointed to manage the living space, he said. Petty Officer First Class Cedric Veinstein, a quartermaster, provided security, along with other sailors from San Diego. He set and explained rules and guidelines to the residents.

According to Veinstein, prospects had to be listed on a veterans' database to get into the shelter.

"They have to be drug- and alcohol-free," said Veinstein. "They can't have any personal items except for purses and fanny packs."

Stark said veterans account for one-third of the local homeless population.

Many others are young adults, Bevers noted. "It's sad to see all the homeless kids," he said.

Susan Moreland, a part-time receptionist who volunteered at the children's tent, was just happy to "give back to the vets."


  • Patricia Ann Thomas 347 days ago
    I'm A USN Vet. I will be camping in the woods with out a Tent. Ive been setting up a site for a week now. Im in Palm Bay Florida. the young good ol' boys have brought me back n forth via 4X4 and Airboat. I just moved out of the trailer I've lived in for a year. completed that financial agreement. ScrappN and working at radio station one day a week. I have been going to bed and daily been starving. the Daily bread is too far and the food once a month doesn't last. I was Aviation Ordnance 5 yrs honorable discharge and one hell of a shot. I do have flashbacks and PTSD. if its a bad day i'll dream in green (night vision) mounted on a 50cal or 25mm pulling in the Marines. I was in three different theaters and took pride in my job. I'm reaching out to you and only you tonight.
    Honor, Courage, Commitment & Pride,
    Patti Cakes AO3 Thomas USS Wasp (LHD-1)
    facebook Patricia Thomas
    & Terry Dollar Show sounds of the 50's to early 80's.
    Lots of love to you and Crew Helping others. Survive

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