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Local Advocate Joins Van Hollen for State of the Union

John Mendez is a homeless-outreach specialist at Bethesda Cares.

John Mendez's military service sent him as far away as Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now, his service to the homeless here in Montgomery County will put him before President Barack Obama to hear the State of the Union Address.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen has invited the North Bethesda resident to accompany him to tonight's address, and Mendez said the opportunity is a great honor.

"It's kind of a lifelong dream to be able to attend the State of the Union," he said. "When I got the invitation, I thought about the places I've been, the theaters of operation I've served in, and it hits home to be in this situation where you can be a part of a significant part of our democracy."

Mendez, who was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1995, has spent the last decade working with the homeless and the past two years as an outreach specialist with .

Mendez pays particular attention to homeless veterans, and, thanks to a federal program called HUD-VASH, which provides housing vouchers for veterans, Bethesda Cares has been able to help many of the county's vets in need.

Mendez said Van Hollen was instrumental in securing vouchers for Montgomery County through the program, helping get chronically homeless veterans off the street and into homes. 

Van Hollen praised Mendez's for his dedication to assisting under-served veterans.

"I'm so pleased that John Mendez will be my guest at this year’s State of the Union Address," Van Hollen said in a statement. "His service to our nation, both in the United States Marine Corps and as a tireless advocate for homeless veterans, has helped thousands of people in our community."

In 2011, Mendez was also commended by the Department of Veterans Affairs for his work with HUD-VASH, and he recently organized . 

The State of the Union Address will be broadcast at 9 p.m. tonight, on television and on the White House's website.

hmj January 25, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Van Hollen is part of the problem in Washington. Far left liberals like him and Nancy "you need to pass the bill before you can read it" Pelosi have the nation near bankruptcy. Last year this time, he supported Obama's proposed federal budget that went to the Senate ---- it was voted down (97 to 0) because it ignored the out of control deficit. He and other Obama bots are operating in an alternate universe.
Richard Rice January 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I totally agree. The only thing Chris Van Hollen is interested in is keeping getting reelected. Certainly everyone wants change in America. This is not it! I am personally much worse off now than I was when Chris, Nancy and Obama were elected.! It is time for change and this is not it!!! Vote them out quickly, please!!!!!
Jeannette January 25, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I am a huge fan of Chris Van Hollen, and I applaud his generosity in taking Mr. Mendez to the State of the Union Address. What an honor and opportunity for a citizen advocate from our county to witness this important part of the process that is our US Government. Chris is an advocate for all in our District and country, and I will support him and vote for him whenever and wherever he runs...hopefully someday for the White House!

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