Ranch & Coast Magazine

April 2023

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government agencies, and Martin is quick to point out that it is the work of these groups that makes SDVC possible, just as it was their work that aided him in his recovery. What unifies them all is the desire to support veterans, and SDVC now leads a Transition Integration Project (TIP) that presents information and tools to service members to help them navigate their reintegration more effectively. On top of that, in September of 2022, the San Diego Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of Centers for Military and Veteran Reintegration that combine education, employment assistance, small business support, wellness, home ownership services, and financial assistance in every district in the county. At the federal level, in 2021 the House of Representatives passed Resolution 2326, which provides off-base transition training for veterans and their spouses. About 15,000 service personnel exit the military in San Diego each year, with roughly a third choosing to stay in San Diego. "We're looking to affect the lives of each one of them," says Martin. In response, SDVC has become the regional coordinator for a program soon to be called Onward OPS that enables a person to sponsor an active duty service member who will be coming into their community upon leaving the military. e integrated work of veteran organizations in San Diego has been so successful in supporting transitioning servicemembers that other regions are now looking to it as a model. Martin was recently invited to join the Federal Council on Criminal Justice's Veterans Justice Commission, which is exploring ways to replicate similar efforts across the country. For someone who ten years ago was afraid to leave his house, Martin has made more than a remarkable recovery. sdvetscoalition.org What Martin quickly found was that in addition to the VA, there are some 300 nonprofits in San Diego prepared to help, many of whose services Martin has used over the past ten years. In addition to speech and physical therapy, Martin began counseling. He also had a support dog, and today Martin continues with his speech and cognitive therapy and has added art therapy to the list. He knows he would not be here without the support of others, and as he improved, his thoughts turned to those like him, transitioning out of their service. "I realized the guys getting out after me were about to face just what I had, and that they should know the things I was learning right then and there," says Martin. "I knew if I had that support at the start of my transition, I wouldn't have had at least some of the issues I had." e first year after leaving the military can be extremely difficult even without a serious injury. e risks of substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide are real. To do what Martin had in mind meant going upstream, presenting the information he was getting to active duty personnel and their families before they ever left the service. Martin sees three pillars to a successful reintegration. One is the government, primarily in the form of the VA. e second is the individual, who must be willing to take the necessary steps. But perhaps the most important element is the third, which is community involvement. e San Diego Veterans Coalition was formed in 2009 to be a unifying force among the county's vast array of veteran organizations. Martin started with the organization in 2016, since which time he has become a member of its board as well as co-champion of its Physical and Emotional Health Action Group. Today, SDVC represents more than 160 member organizations, businesses, and While a Mineman, Martin worked with sea lions in Point Loma COURTESY PHOTO @ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2023 47

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