Micheal Washington, Director of Resources
Micheal Washington served in the Army’s 193rd infantry battalion from 1976-1979. Micheal has been working with the National Veterans Foundation for over 15 years as head of the resource department and as special assistant to Shad. Micheal is the go-to guy of the Foundation. His initiative and perseverance have kept the Foundation’s ability to support veterans all over the country at a peak. Micheal's dedication and talent have spearheaded many of the Foundation’s fundraising events. He continues to be a major contributor to the Foundation's realizing its mission.
“I especially like finding resources to provide food and clothing for homeless veterans and non-veterans with various programs throughout the Los Angeles area.”
Richard Rudnick, Call Center Manager
Rich Rudnick served in the U.S. Navy from 1977 through 1983 as an Interior Communications Electrician’s Mate aboard the USS Manitowoc out of Little Creek, Virginia. After leaving the service, he worked as a bench tech and as a system specialist, designing multistory building heating and ventilation systems. For the last 15 years, he has worked for organizations serving the homeless. He joined the NVF in February 2007.
“I’m very happy and honored to have joined an organization with such a strong history of helping veterans.”
Bill Morgan, Grant Writer
The son of a retired USMC Master Sergeant, Bill Morgan is a non-profit fund raising professional and Veteran advocate with more than a dozen years leading organizations and their development efforts. Prior to being the Development Director at the National Veterans Foundation, Bill worked with Feed Our Vets, the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, St. Anne’s Maternity Home, the Foundation for the Junior Blind and the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus.
”I’m proud to be part of the National Veterans Foundation’s work helping Veterans in need and their families. Our Veterans deserve all the help they can get transitioning back to civilian life."
Gerald Hillard Jr II, Information Services Representative
Gerald Hillard joined the NVF as an Information Services Representative. He is a Los Angeles native and comes from a family of veterans. He got involved with the NVF to be part of a movement that can actually make a difference to improve the lives of veterans across the nation through our Hotline and Street Team.
“I am honored to be accepted by the NVF. And I am thankful they have given me the opportunity to help veterans who have risked their lives to serve this country.”
Louis Geiger Jr., Information Services Representative
Louis Geiger, Jr. served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 2007. He experienced combat during Operation Desert Shield/Storm as an Artilleryman, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF-1) as an Infantryman. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1992. He transferred to the reserves and was reactivated in 2002 for Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Iraqi Freedom. When he left active duty for the second time, he had a one-week period of debriefing. Not enough time to fully grasp what benefits he had earned and how to access them. Not enough time to acclimate back to civilian life, either. “I didn’t know what came next,” he says. “I knew about the VA, but you have to do your research. Here in Southern California, it’s fairly easy to find resources and get to the nearest VA. I expect the same is true in large metropolitan areas. But in many small towns across the country, there’s often no support for veterans, and it’s not uncommon to have to drive 1-2 hours to get to a VA clinic or hospital.”
While in the reserves, Louis was in charge of his Reserve unit, married, worked full-time in the cable industry and was going to school full-time. He was functioning at a high level, but his PTSD would flare up to the point that his wife delivered an ultimatum that he get help. In 2004, he went into the PTSD program offered at the West Los Angeles VA. The program began with group sessions, followed by one-on-one counseling. “If it weren’t for that program, the PTSD counselors and the appropriate medications, I would not be here today.” Louis says “For the program to work, you have to be proactive and do your part. Unfortunately, the PTSD department at the local VA has moved locations within the campus and the program is now more of a clinic than a therapy environment, which was more effective for so many vets like me.”
Louis says “90% of veterans have no clue about the benefits and resources available to them.” He’s a counselor who can speak from personal experience to vets. That’s what makes him such a valuable member of our team.
Apolonio "Apple" E. Muñoz III, Community Outreach Coordinator
Apolonio “Apple” E. Muñoz III CPSS, a disabled US Army Combat Veteran with one tour in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. He launched the NVF’s Outreach Program in 2010, and he became the public face of the NVF’s Outreach efforts throughout Southern California. Unfortunately, he decided to leave the NVF in 2012 to focus on his mental health. He eventually became homeless, however, with help from the VA and several local providers, he was able to find stable housing and regain control of his overall well-being. His experience with being homeless has gave him an opportunity to influence real change and he now serves on the Lived Experience Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). He eventually found his way home and returned to the NVF Team in July 2018.
In addition to providing services and information on our “Lifeline for Vets” crisis hotline, Apple directs our Outreach efforts as the NVF’s Community Outreach Coordinator. When he’s not in the office, you can find him representing the NVF at various Stand Downs & Veteran Job & Resource Fairs throughout Southern California, as well as meeting with various public officials as he works to combat Veteran Homelessness. But that’s not all: he’s a volunteer, advisor and board member with several local, regional and national LGBT and Veteran non-profits.
Apple is a Certified Veteran Peer Support Specialist, Certified Suicide Prevention Specialist (ASIST), Certified VA Community Integration Specialist, and is also certified in Mental Health First Aid. He has also received numerous recognitions from local non-profits, the State of California, LA County, and the US Congress for his advocacy and work with the LGBT & Veteran Communities.
Jim ‘Sneaky’ White, Prison Outreach Coordinator
‘Sneaky’ White served first in the Marine. His first enlistment was as a machine-gunner (0331), then he re-enlisted as served as a helicopter crew-chief (CH-34s &CH-46s), including service in Cuba, Dominican Republic Civil War, and 19 months in Vietnam. He received an inter-service transfer into the Army where he served as a CWO flying helicopters. During his three (3) Army Vietnam tours he flew two tours flying Aero-Scouts and an extended tour flying Cobras for MAC-V-SOG out of Quang Tri for Special Forces. He is a disabled Veteran who wrote a book about his time in SOG. He spent 38 years in the Cal Dept. of Corrections where he started the incarcerated Veterans programs, as well as the inmate college program which is now in all California prisons. The college program is responsible for the reduction of recidivism for those that complete the course to under 2%, which is well below the national average. A longtime friend of Shad’s he volunteers full time to NVF and is committed to helping Veterans for the rest of his life.
“I have always been helping our Veteran’s community, but now being with NVF I find that I am able to do more, which gives me great satisfaction in my life. A sense of accomplishment in spite of my age.”
Martha Elena Varela, Women Veterans Coordinator
Martha Elena Varela served ten years with the Minnesota Army National Guard as a combat field medic with the HHC Aviation Brigade. Originally from Zacatecas Mexico, Martha has focused 20 years of her non-profit work experience with the inner city communities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN and is now working to help the homeless population Los Angeles, CA. She has worked for the University of Minnesota, Catholic Charities, Boys & Girls Clubs, St. Paul & Minneapolis Public Schools, the Head Start Program, and many other non profit organizations.Martha is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she holds a degree in Social Work, Youth Studies, and Multicultural Studies. Martha Elena is the proud mother of two boys and new grandmother of her 2 year old grandson Felix. Her oldest is a junior in college and is a licenced EMT and will be transferring to St. Thomas University in the fall of 2020. Her youngest is currently in junior high school. Martha Elena is committed to lifelong learning, enjoys traveling and watching her sons play sports in her spare time.