by Elissa Einhorn
Nine years ago, Tim Mathues’ supervisor asked him to develop outreach programs for San Diego County’s veterans. When he asked what the role entailed, he was told, “We have no job description.”
Fast forward to 2023. The Veteran Outreach Coordinator fielded more than 25,000 inquiries from the veteran community and the county’s four active military bases (three Marine Corps and one Navy). This is indicative of the robust portfolio of programs and services Mathues has built to serve active and retired military—including vets who are homeless—as well as military spouses and families.
“When I started working for the county, I was going out into communities and I was noticing a lot of homeless,” Mathues recalls. “I thought, ‘We could use a mobile unit.’”
These days, the “Live Well Mobile Office Vehicle,” provided by the county’s Health & Human Services Agency, is the realization of Mathues’ idea and one of two main ways that he brings services to veterans, particularly those without access to transportation and technology.
Created to help multiple vulnerable populations, the mobile van sets up shop in a parking lot near the county’s homeless encampment. Reps help between 20-25 veterans monthly with various services.
VET-CONNECT, available in eight city and county libraries, also brings Veterans Administration services to vets in rural areas or to those without transportation. This allows them to video-conference with staff who assist them with completing benefit forms and who provide referrals for others services, such as medical care and housing assistance.
A vet himself—Mathues served in the Marine Corps from 1969-1971, including 13 months in Vietnam—said of the next stage of his life after he left the military, “I knew I didn’t want to go back to war.”
After spending 40+ years in the human resources field that eventually brought him to San Diego, he happened upon a VA Hospital in La Jolla that needed volunteers. He recalls sitting in the cafeteria on the first day of his volunteer service: “I looked around and it felt like I knew every single person in that room and every person in that hospital.”
Years later, Mathues is still committed to his fellow veterans and is clear about why the services he provides are critical. “My position as outreach coordinator is to get the word out about the benefits and services they’re not aware of but are entitled to,” he says.
To participate as an individual or as a partner organization, see www.livewellsd.org.