OUR HISTORY

 

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island (OSDRI) was founded in 1993 when several Vietnam Era Veterans, including current Board Chairman and President Tony DeQuattro, organized to help local homeless veterans.  The genesis of OSDRI was the hosting of a 3-day Stand Down Weekend. Held annually the third weekend in September, Stand Down Weekend coalesces key community, federal and state agencies in a military style encampment. The encampment becomes a one stop location for homeless and at risk veterans to access medical and mental health care, financial assistance, housing, legal, DMV, employment services and more. Since 1993, over ten-thousand veterans have received services at Stand Down Weekend.

OSDRI embarked on an ambitious effort, in 2001, to build Rhode Island’s first permanent supportive housing for disabled homeless veterans. Beginning with seven units on the site of what is the organization’s current headquarters located on Hartford Avenue in Johnston, Rhode Island. OSDRI has developed over 88 units of housing for homeless and at risk veteran families. These properties are located from Westerly to Woonsocket and provide veterans a choice of permanent, transitional and recovery housing solutions.

The Global War on Terror resulted in an entirely new generation of veterans returning home and presented with a variety of needs, barriers and challenges than those who came before. In 2011, OSDRI expanded its services beyond its own housing and signature outreach event.  Partnering with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, homeless veteran households were offered temporary financial assistance to assist in rapidly housing them in privately owned rentals. Assistance was also offered to prevent evictions through payment of rent in arears.  Millions of dollars have been distributed to rapidly house local homeless veteran households and keep them housed.

Simultaneously, a robust employment and training program was created bringing together state, federal, corporate and foundation supported initiatives. These programs have moved hundreds of veteran households towards a path of economic security and independence.

Inspired by working alongside veterans and Gold Star Families of the Global War on Terror, in 2014, OSDRI’s Director of Development Dee DeQuattro proposed the creation of the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial. With the support and hard work of OSDRI’s staff, Gold Star Families and dozens of volunteers, the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial premiered Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.  The display of nearly seven thousand boots adorned with flags and placards each depicting a fallen service member in the Global War on Terror was immediately embraced by the community.  The memorial has been visited by tensof thousands over the course of past Memorial Day Weekends.

Complimenting OSDRI’s wrap around services, the Legal Assistance for Warriors (LAW) program was permanently established in 2018.  OSDRI’s LAW program offers veterans pro-bono and reduced fee representation in VA and Social Security Disability Claims / Appeals, misdemeanor and traffic violations, evictions, DMV matters and other selected cases.

For nearly three decades OSDRI has been serving local veterans in need as Rhode Island’s leading non-profit provider of veteran services. OSDRI continues the time honored tradition of Veterans Helping Veterans.  It is staffed and led by veterans and veteran family members. It remains committed to its motto of providing a “Hand up not a Hand Out.”