Heroes in the Shadows

Apr 3, 2014

homeless-veterans-national-memorial-day-concert-2012Of the estimated 4,444 homeless individuals in San Gabriel Valley, twelve percent or 533 of them have been identified as Veterans. Within this latter group, a rising number of them are recently released Veterans.

In response, Joe Leal, an Iraq combat veteran, founded The Vet Hunters Project. He “is shedding light on a population that oftentimes tries to remain hidden…. His team conducts daily search and rescue missions of our displaced veterans throughout the country and (to) connect them to the resources and knowledge they need by bringing it to where they are—whether it be on the streets, by railroad tracks, under bridges, or in broken down cars.”

Along with Vet Hunters, the San Gabriel Valley Veterans Employment Committee present the 3rd Annual San Gabriel Valley HOMEless Veterans Stand Down event called “Heroes in the Shadows.”

This 3-day event starting Friday, April 4th, “aims to combat homelessness by providing on site assistance, services, and resources to those in need.”


Dental, medical, vision, legal, and counseling services will be available on-site, as well as accommodations for sleeping quarters, food, showers and laundry facilities (provided by the 155th CSSB Army Reserve), entertainment, and personal grooming and wellness. Transportation is available to and from the event. Attendees may pre-register online or at several partner locations until noon on Sunday, April 6th.

The 2012 Stand Down event attracted close to 400 veterans, active/reserve/guard service members, and civilians ranging from 19-82 years old. This year, 2 cars will be given to veterans in need; the vehicles are currently in the shop (HYE Tech Auto) getting new fluids, batteries, and tires.

Unlike other similar Stand Down events throughout Southern California that rely on government grants to fund their operations (which could limit the types of services and populations served), “Heroes in the Shadows” is made possible through personal and organizational donations and sponsorships. (Vet Hunters)

“‘Homeless’ and ‘veterans’ should never go together,” says Joe Leal.

Joe Leal (left) with homeless veteran

Joe Leal (left) with homeless veteran

“We don’t call ourselves ‘outreach’; we call ourselves ‘search and rescue teams.'”

“Heroes in the Shadows” Homeless Veterans Stand Down
Friday-Sunday, April 4th-6th; opening ceremony Friday at 10 a.m.
Whittier Narrows Recreation Park, 1200 N. Potrero Rd., South El Monte
Details for event may be found at




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