Veteran’s Continued Service
by Assemblymember Phil Ting
The men and women who serve in our country’s armed forces make incredible sacrifices
to defend America’s beliefs, values and freedoms around the world. It’s a tough job that
takes its toll on veterans and their families.
As an expression of thanks, members of the California Legislature last month chose to
honor veterans from across the state. This year, I honored Shannon Kissinger, a San
Francisco native and resident of the Richmond District. He served in the United States
Navy from 1996 to 2001 and now works to help homeless veterans.
During his service, Kissinger was deployed to Okinawa, Puerto Rico, Pearl Harbor,
Portugal (for a humanitarian mission) and Ventura (for a disaster relief mission).
While he was stationed at Port Hueneme, near Oxnard, California, he attained
the rank of Equipment Operator Third Class. Kissinger also received several
accolades, including the Good Conduct Medal, Coast Guard Commendation with
Operational Distinguished Device, Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Seabee
Combat Warfare Specialist Device.
Even after his service in the military, Kissinger still continues to serve his community
as a licensed social worker. He is the community education coordinator at Swords to
Plowshares, a nonprofit dedicated to providing assistance to homeless, low-income
and at-risk veterans in the Bay Area. In this position, he provides cultural competency
training for law enforcement, first responders, mental health and service professionals
and others who may interact with veterans.
Swords to Plowshares was founded in 1974 and assists 3,000 veterans each year. The or-
ganization specializes in providing case management, mental health assessment and
referral, rapid-re-housing and eviction prevention services, supportive housing and
employment and training assistance to veterans in need. Swords to Plowshares’
mission is to ensure that all veterans are able to receive the services they need to
restore their dignity, hope and self-sufficiency and heal the wounds of war.
Many veterans face an increased risk for homelessness due to higher rates of post-
traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, sexual assault and substance abuse.
Nationally, veterans experiencing homelessness are more likely to live on the
street than in shelters and often remain on the street for extended periods of time.
Kissinger’s example of continued service and stepping up in his community is an
inspiration to all of us. Each of us has a responsibility to give back by supporting
causes greater than ourselves.
Honoring our veterans is not about waving a flag. It is about recognizing and respecting
their sacrifices by helping them succeed when the fighting stops and the struggles of
civilian life arise.
For further information, please visit the website at www.swords-to-plowshares.org.
Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) represents the 19th Assembly District.
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