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San Diego Vets Part Of Campaign That Asks Public To Go ‘Beyond The Thank You’ And More Local News

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Going from active duty military to veteran can feel like a loss of identity. Hear San Diego veterans talk about transitioning to civilian life. Plus, Veterans Day is a day to honor those who proudly served our nation. KPBS talks to one veteran about why the celebration means so much to him. And, after sitting vacant for more than a decade, a site nicknamed the "Sally Wong" building in City Heights is set to become affordable housing. Community advocates describe the project as a new chapter.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Tuesday, November 12th. I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up after sitting vacant aside, nickname the Sally Wong building in city Heights. It said to become affordable housing and going from active duty military to veteran can feel like a loss of identity. But when you take that uniform off, it makes you second guess yourself. Right. And you're like, wait a minute, I can no longer, you know, say, Hey, I'm a Marine. That and more coming up right after the break,

Speaker 2: 00:31 uh,

Speaker 1: 00:33 new life or a historic city Heights property after sitting vacant for more than a decade, the site nicknamed the Sally Wong building, it said to become affordable housing speak city Heights reporter Ebony Monet says, community advocates described the project as a new chapter on university Avenue and 41st street. There's a two story, nondescript gray white building with boarded up windows. It's an eyesore. Eric took, Meyer is with the city Heights community development corporation. He says the buildings state of disrepair and close proximity to central elementary school. It's just part of the concern, probably um, a health and safety hazard. And it needs to come down. Built in 1919 it became known in the neighborhood as the Sally Wong building. But in recent years

Speaker 3: 01:19 the Sally Wong building attracts a lot of um, homeless people that, that uh, break in

Speaker 1: 01:26 city Heights. CDC partnered with Waco and housing and development. They have plans to transform it into a mixed use project with commercial space on the ground floor and affordable housing above Ebony Monet KPBS news. They deploy alongside the Navy seals though it's never made them. Famous. KPBS military reporters, Steve Walsh says combat craft operators are attempting to preserve their history

Speaker 4: 01:51 like the seals there. Modern history dates back to the Vietnam war when they built in piloted boats used for clandestine missions into the rivers of North Vietnam. The special warfare combat craft crews have deployed alongside seals ever since. They've mainly kept out of the spotlight says unit veteran William Redmond.

Speaker 3: 02:08 You were always mistaken to be seals when in actuality, even though we fight along with them, we do our own missions without them and we don't talk about it.

Speaker 4: 02:20 The group was in San Diego recently to celebrate their 55th year. Their motto is the quiet professionals, historians among the group recently published war boats, a history of the unit, which continues to be a separate companion unit to the now more famous Navy seals. Steve Walsh KPBS news

Speaker 1: 02:38 veterans day as a data onto the men and women who proudly served our nation. KPBS reporter Joe Hong attended the annual veterans day parade on Harbor drive Monday and spoke with one San Diego veteran about why the celebration means so much to him. Line

Speaker 4: 02:55 the street along the San Diego Bay to witness the 33rd annual veterans parade. The

Speaker 5: 03:00 roads became a venue for showcasing local student marching bands, veterans organizations, and of course veterans. The oboe. Shea is a retired army officer who now owns an avocado ranch in granite Hills. Both Shea said the parade is a chance for him to hear stories from other veterans and to wear his uniform.

Speaker 6: 03:16 It's always a great honor to put the uniform on and it always feels like I'm putting on something. In some ways that shield and other ways a badge of honor and other ways. It's just something that you know, I said, you know what? I wish I, I'm not the kind of person that can get to my age and say I didn't wear a uniform.

Speaker 5: 03:34 Both says young people considering them, those things should know that the sacrifice comes with the greatest reward. Joe Hong K PBS news,

Speaker 1: 03:41 Bodhi tree concerts has smartly placed its production of all is calm between veteran's day and Christmas. Since the choral opera touches on both themes, KPBS arts reporter Beth like Amando previews the show that opens Friday, Vodi tree concerts has a mission to perform intentional acts of kindness through music at a time when America seems polarized. All this calm serves up a story of enemies coming together to find a shared humanity. It says Bodhi tree concerts, co-founder Diana do Mel.

Speaker 7: 04:11 The news of the day is pretty rough and we look to these soldiers who were sworn enemies. They were killing each other and they could find a common humanity and they found it through singing through music. For us as individuals and us as an organization, it's Bodhi tree concerts is what we're founded on. Finding enlightenment and understanding through music

Speaker 1: 04:31 all is calm recounts the Christmas truce of 1914 when enemy soldiers were brought together by song in the midst of world war one. After partnering with San Diego opera last December to do the show at the Balboa theater this year, Bodhi tree is going solo and returning to a smaller venue for a singer and cofounder, Walter Dumell. So we will be returning to the veterans museum. Much more intimate space. A holds 150 200 people. Only the artists will be feet from the first row of audience, so you will be right there in the trenches with the soldiers. All his comm opens this weekend at the veterans museum. Beth like Amando KPBS news over a hundred people gathered in [inaudible] Sunday to support ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq. Iraqis have taken to the streets in Baghdad and other cities in recent weeks to denounce what they see as an illegitimate and corrupt government installed. After the U S invasion in 2003 Iraqi security forces responded with a brutal crackdown using live ammunition, tear gas, and stun grenades on protestors. More than 300 people have died and 15,000 others had been wounded since the protest began last month. That's according to the independent high commission of human rights for Iraq. We dad slowly as the vice president of the San Diego chapter of the American Arab anti-discrimination committee, much of her family still lives in.

Speaker 8: 05:57 We here please to the United nations, our elected politicians, law makers, and the international community to pressure the Iraqi community to stop the bloodshed and listen to the demands of the peaceful demonstrators,

Speaker 1: 06:13 the rally called for international bodies and the United States to step up their efforts to stop the violence. Also asking that a new generation of politicians take over in Baghdad this week. Veteran's day is a time for the public to thank those who have served in the military, but it's also a reminder of the disconnect between the military and civilian world's KPV as reporter Tera and Minto brings us the voices, a veteran. Speaking about overcoming that gap and how the public can help.

Speaker 9: 06:43 Too long after Marcus Priolo completed an addiction program at a veterans' facility in San Diego, he relapsed,

Speaker 10: 06:49 use some pretty hard drugs and I lost my mind and I was gone for a weekend, uh, going up and down the coast, jumping off of a bridges, um, trying to extinguish the light in myself, tried to commit suicide. Do it again. Yeah. I, uh, got some housing from this lady and then I ended up, uh, going on an alcoholic binge. That usually happens because I tend to self-destruct at times in my life where things are going good. And again, I was doing 80 down the freeway, mind you, the wrong side of the freeway,

Speaker 9: 07:24 but each time he, ALO fellow veteran and friend Ella Hardy was there, including when Prioleau landed in jail.

Speaker 11: 07:31 And then I remember just sitting there and talking to you on the other side of this glass wall and talking over the phone and just the, Hey man, what are we going to do now?

Speaker 9: 07:41 Priolo and [inaudible] recalled the ups and downs and an interview at the Stephen A. Cohen military family clinic in San Diego. The facility partnered with NPR story Corps for a series of conversations between local veterans and their loved ones about life after the military Lahara day says, leaving the military can be disorienting.

Speaker 11: 08:00 The things that we struggled to renew, we are transitioning from our military service to civilian life was uh, our identities and what happens when our services end

Speaker 9: 08:07 that thought hit Navy veteran, Ashley Tatum, when she changed out of her uniform for the last time,

Speaker 7: 08:12 it was like, I didn't know who I was anymore

Speaker 9: 08:14 in an interview with her children. She says it symbolized a break from what she represented and from what represented her.

Speaker 7: 08:21 Because literally everything that you needed to know about me was literally on my shirt from my pay grade to my last name to the metals that I had earned to the air warfare qualification that I had. Um, when you take that off, people tend to forget that you did what you did.

Speaker 9: 08:39 Former Marine Priscilla Rodriguez recalled a similar feeling and a conversation with her cousin who also served.

Speaker 7: 08:45 But when you take that uniform off, it makes you second guess yourself, right? You're like, wait a minute, I can no longer, you know, say, Hey, I'm a Marine. And they say once a Marine, always a Marine and every Marine I've ever met always reinforces that. But it is way different because you don't have, um, the [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 09:05 camaraderie like the daily support her fellow Marine showed while they were deployed in Iraq. Little things made sure that, you know, you look out for each, Oh, did you eat, are you hydrated? You know, it's over a hundred degrees here. Um, are you hydrated? Right. She says, losing that support can be debilitating. Like, imagine being torn away from your family because that's what you become when you're in the military. You become a family and then you're torn away from that Navy that Tatum says. That's why the public should offer veterans more than just words. The Cohen veterans network found about half of the 218 vets it surveyed were uncomfortable being thanked for their service. 58% preferred people donate or volunteer at veteran serving organizations.

Speaker 7: 09:44 Just go to the VA hospital, see how you can help out, um, and put some action behind your words. And that's pretty much what I would ask.

Speaker 9: 09:54 Potato says it's also on veterans to ask for support. She now serves former service members as a Cohen clinic employee.

Speaker 7: 10:00 So it's really up to you to get, if you need help with anything, whether that's maybe you have, you've seen some scary things and your brain needs help or you need help getting a job or you need help finding a house

Speaker 9: 10:15 for army veteran. Priolo asking for help was one of what he calls his saving graces.

Speaker 1: 10:22 And I see that my brothers and sisters are able to help me. It's like a, it's like a family. It's a brotherhood. It's a sisterhood. It's, it's comradery.

Speaker 9: 10:31 He's now engaged to the mother of his recently born son Taryn mento. KPBS news.

Speaker 1: 10:36 Thanks for listening to San Diego news matters. Do us a favor, and if you appreciate the podcast rate or review us on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.