|homeless sleeping next to the U.S.S. Midway aircraft
carrier museum, Downtown San Diego
With all the vehicles on the streets of America sporting those little yellow “Support
Our Troops,” ribbons, it is truly ironic that we have more than 200,000
veterans who are homeless. But not many Americans realize it.
Mark Schulze and Patty Mooney, of Crystal Pyramid Productions, a San Diego
video production company, shot footage at the 20th anniversary of Stand Down
in 2007 for the Veterans Administration (VA). Stand Down is a three-day
event that allows homeless veterans to come in off the streets for a shower,
hot meals and a change of clothing.
Additionally, the veterans also receive
medical, dental and holistic treatment, as well as counseling and legal advice
from caring volunteers. The San Diego Stand Down became the model for
dozens of other Stand Downs that have been generated across the country by
people who thought it a tragedy to have our war heroes sleeping on our streets.
|A homeless Iraq war vet and her pet|
Schulze and Mooney were shocked to learn of the huge number of homeless veterans
in the U.S. After spending two days interviewing and getting to know
some of the men and women who had served our country, some without limbs, and
all without homes, Mooney broke down in tears. “Three days of reprieve
from the streets and now they have to go back out there. We have to do
something for them!” she told Schulze. He comforted her, “Why
don’t we do what we do best? Let’s make a documentary.”
|Documentary producers Patty Mooney and Mark Schulze interview
David "The Water Man" Ross who appears in "The Invisible
It took a year for the couple to make “The Invisible Ones: Homeless
Combat Veterans”. They interviewed Congressman Bob Filner, Chair
of the Veterans Affairs Committee; Congresswoman Susan Davis, Chair of the
Military Personnel Committee; Gary Becks, Director of Rescue Task Force; Dr.
Jon Nachison, Co-Founder of San Diego Stand Down; Al Pavich, Former Commander
and Retired CEO of VVSD (Veterans Village of San Diego); Darcy Pavich, Chaplain
and Stand Down Coordinator; Brigadier General Bob Cardenas; Robert Schmidt,
Director of Vince Lombardi Association; Jessica Brian and Michael Kilmer, Veterans
Administration Outreach Therapists, and several homeless veterans.
|A homeless veteran at Chicano Park, San Diego|
All contributions to this documentary have been pro bono, even down to the
music, box cover graphics, website creation and DVD replication. Mooney
edited at night and on weekends, grappling with technical difficulties, and
whenever she thought of quitting, she remembered, “there are veterans
who are homeless tonight and we have to help them.”
The couple delivered the completed DVD to Darcy Pavich, at the 2008 Stand
Down. The chaplain’s eyes welled up as she said, “Do you
know how many video crews have come and gone over the last 20 years who said
they would send us clips? You are the first ones who did what you said
you were going to do.”
Churches, veterans associations, philanthropy clubs and others are welcome
to request the DVD for free and share it with their members. All revenue
generated from sales and showings of the documentary will go to homeless veterans
organizations such as VVSD and the National Coalition for the Homeless. A
website, www.theinvisibleones.org informs
visitors how they may be of assistance to homeless veterans. Money is
welcome; volunteering time is priceless.
For further information on “The Invisible Ones: Homeless Combat Veterans” go
to www.theinvisibleones.org or
call (619) 644-3000.