Meet our Staff
Our staff is the backbone of National Veterans Foundation and the Lifeline for Vets. They share the vision and values of NVF and helping Veterans. Meet our team that makes things happen.
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.”
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.”
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.
Jim ‘Sneaky’ White
Prison Outreach Coordinator
‘Sneaky’ White served first in the Marines. 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.”
Melinda Meshad, LCSW
Women Veterans Coordinator
Melinda Meshad has over twenty years working with individuals and families. She has focused her career on serving populations with high rates of trauma. Her experience includes working with incarcerated youth, teaching special needs, ten years in child welfare and over five years with the National Veterans Foundation.
Cathie Sandstrom Smith
Writer and Editor (Advisory Board)
A military brat, Cathie Sandstrom Smith has lived in five countries and ten states. She has written for the National Veterans Foundation since 1997 and currently serves as Writer/Editor as well as on the Advisory Board.
Twice a Pushcart nominee, her work appears online at the Academy of American Poets and has appeared in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Ekphrasis, Cider Press Review, The Comstock Review and Lyric, among others. Anthologies include Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and The Coiled Serpent. Her work is forthcoming in Poetry in Motion, Los Angeles. Her poem “You, Again” is in the artists’ book collection at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles and in the library of the University of Southern California. She makes her home in Sierra Madre, up against the San Gabriel mountains.