SAN DIEGO - Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Detachment Tripoli (LHA 7) in San Diego took a few hours out of their day to assist past service members at Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) on Jan. 17, 2019. Veterans Village is dedicated to combating homelessness and related challenges among veterans, by providing housing, employment, legal, and substance abuse rehabilitation.
The Sailors from Tripoli started doing this community relations event as part of the Chief Petty Officer birthday celebration in April of 2018. Tripoli has since tried to send volunteers to Veterans Village twice a week, as the ship’s schedule permits.
“I hope we can find the time to keep helping out VVSD after we are commissioned,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Yue Wang.
Before heading to Veterans Village, the volunteers for Tripoli gather for a quick briefing with Wang who serves as the command’s volunteer coordinator in San Diego. Wang informs the Sailors what their role will be for the day as well as providing directions to Veterans Village for first time participants.
“I like being able to help out in the community here. It’s really cool to be able to serve people who served us,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Apprentice Brett Sedlock.
After arriving, the Sailors meet with a staff volunteer from Veterans Village who leads them to the cafeteria to begin prep work for lunch. The Sailors are then assigned different tasks in order to prepare lunch for the veterans. Some start cleaning the salad bar, while others head to the back to start chopping vegetables or cutting up eggs.
After about an hour of food preparation, Veterans start coming in to the cafeteria to eat. Some Sailors will help serve lunch, while others take a break to sit down, share a meal, and talk with the Veterans.
“I like talking with the veterans, seeing what I have in common with them,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Kalera Hall.
When lunch is over, Sailors then assist with the cleanup of the cafeteria and kitchen, before heading back to the detachment to continue with their workday. When asked, the volunteers said they came away feeling that they had done something both fun and important.
“One day this could possibly be us, so it’s important to give back,” said Hall.
After almost a year of Team Tripoli’s volunteer work with the Veteran’s Village, Chief Wang has seen a payoff in their efforts firsthand.
“I know the Veterans over there, they really appreciate it. They get really excited every time they see us there,” said Wang.
Tripoli is the second America-class amphibious assault ship and is scheduled for commissioning in late 2019.