Supporting Homeless Veterans with Sonosite iViz Portable Ultrasound

August 04, 2016

It’s one of the central pillars of the United States military: You don’t leave a fellow soldier behind. 

That ethos pushed five Vietnam veterans, Jack Lyon, Bill Mahedy, Randy Waite, Paul Grasso, and Russ Kelly, to a breaking point in 1981 when they founded Vietnam Veterans of San Diego, a nationally recognized leader in serving homeless military veterans. 

As their history page shows, “they were struggling with the traumas of war and looking to enhance services from the VA that were available to them at that time. They were sitting around a group counseling session, talking seriously about mounting a combat assault on the VA. They know they would probably get arrested but they were desperate to shine a spotlight on the lack of medical and psychological care for Vietnam Veterans.”

That assault never materialized, as a former Army Chaplin – Father William Mahedy – made a radical suggestion, “Why don’t you take this energy and do something that will really make a difference?”

The group soon established Vietnam Veterans of San Diego and began helping their fellow soldiers who had returned from war. In just four years, VVSD was making traction in its mission to support homeless Vets. In 1984 they created the “Landing Zone,” a 44-person facility that provided alcohol and drug rehabilitation services.  In 1988, they founded Stand Down, a community event that brings together veteran services that are normally scattered throughout San Diego County. 

This July, Tyler Huff – Sonosite’s Southern California Territory Manager – supported the annual event by providing three Sonosite iViz portable ultrasound machines. Clinicians using the machines were able to provide a variety of scans including focused assessment with sonography (FAST exams), a rapid ultrasound exam that screens for blood around the heart or abdomen. One extremity scan even found evidence of DVT – or deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a vein which can sometimes travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism. That patient was taken to the ER. 

Providing portable ultrasound at Stand Down 2016 was the perfect environment for Sonosite to show that serving any patient, anywhere, at anytime is what our systems are meant to do. For more on what happens at Stand Down or to get involved yourself, check out and the video below.