Name: Leroy Huff
Profession: Co-founder and Outreach Director, Inland Empire Veterans Stand Down
“My name is Leroy Huff, and my dream for California is that I hope it will come back to being a successful state.”
Huff believes communities will play a vital role as California works to transform its government to one that better serves its people. And he knows firsthand how crucial local knowledge and assistance can be. Huff is co-founder and outreach director of Inland Empire Veterans Stand Down, which helps homeless veterans and their families in that region.
Huff was a Marine veteran who served five tours of duty in Vietnam and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. He and a group of other veterans returned to Vietnam in the mid-2000s, an experience detailed in a documentary series called “Goin' Back.”
Huff and friend Kismet Evans decided to start the San Bernardino-based nonprofit organization in 2006, after seeing the need for assistance among military vets. They attended a “Stand Down” event in San Diego and learned that too many veterans who had nobly served their country were now in sad, dire straits.
Huff remembers thinking to himself: “You need to do something.”
Inland Empire Veterans Stand Down reaches out to homeless veterans and their families, wherever they may be. The organization provides basic essentials, such as counseling, food, clothes, toiletries and bus passes. It also gives vets information about agencies that can help them. The goal is to help these veterans – from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq – regain their dignity and their lives.
When asked what role government has in making his dream for California a reality, Huff says: “The community is what can make a difference.”
“Everything starts from a community standpoint,” Huff says. “No matter how many programs the state offers or how much money comes in, it has to be the community first - at the grassroots level - that takes care of the problems.”