By Alexandria Hoff
LEVITTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Event Organizers typically hope for a big turnout, but the “Stand Down” gathering in Bucks County is an exception.
It’s a three-day camp aimed at helping homeless veterans find common ground. For the retired servicemen and women, the war never really ended.
“People want to survive, survive the best they can and sometimes it’s not too pretty,” says R. Edward Spiller, director of Philadelphia Stand Down.
Buses brought about 100 men and women to Levittown Saturday for the annual event. All guests have two things in common: they are veterans and they are homeless.
“There is a lot of pain and so we are trying to do what we can for the veterans to benefit them,” says volunteer Richard Bradwell.
Bradwell has been volunteering at Stand Down for 12 years. The event itself is in its 22nd year.
“There are some medical doctors. eye doctors,” says Bradwell. “I think they even had acupuncture this year.”
On top of that, there’s food, areas to was up, entertainment and lots of nostalgia.
“Stand down” is a military term especially in relating to combat. It’s a time when troops would rest and rejuvenate before having to head back onto the battlefield.
“I want them to come back, not as a homeless veteran, but someone who can reach back to a homeless veteran and help them like they’ve been helped,” Speller says.
That’s exactly the case with Bradwell.
“I was a homeless veteran in 2004 and I was homeless living on the streets of Philadelphia for eight months,” he says
That year he attended this very same event as a guest, and has returned every year since. He credits it with saving his life.
And now, “I own a home in North Carolina,” Bradwell says.
He says he’s here to show others the battle can be won.