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National Guard members serve dinner to homeless veterans in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Crystal Reidy knows all too well what it’s like going to bed hungry. She grew up in and out of homelessness before joining the National Guard in her senior year of high school.

Through her military service, Reidy received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is currently working on her doctorate.

That success is the reason she organized the “Veterans Serving Veterans” dinner at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

“It’s really my way of paying back the veterans who helped me break that homeless cycle,” said Reidy.

Each Veterans Day, Reidy works with active duty military members from the 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment with the Arizona National Guard. Together, they cook and serve meals to about 90 homeless veterans.

The veterans all received a patriotic ribbon as they entered the dining area Monday. The event was all about remembering and serving those who served before her, said Reidy.

“We have a saying: ‘You never leave a man behind,'” she said. “This is us making sure that when we’re off the battlefield, we’re still not leaving that man behind.”

Veterans account for 13 percent of the adult homeless population in the state, according to the Department of Economic Security. Nearly 1 in 5 returning soldiers has experienced serious trauma, leaving them with lifelong trauma that often leads to homelessness.