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Military matters: Retired colonel seeks to help veterans facing homelessness

Military matters: Retired colonel seeks to help veterans facing homelessness
A. David Mangelsdorff, PhD, MPH ’82

After decades of military and civil service, A. David Mangelsdorff, PhD, MPH ’82, lives by a set of strongly held beliefs.

“We should leave no one behind, and we should help others be the best they can be,” he says. “These have always been part of my mission.”

His most recent donation to UTHealth Houston School of Public Health serves these goals by supporting research and community outreach for veterans facing homelessness in San Antonio, Texas.

“I see a great need to support veterans. In war, soldiers pay a terrible price. We need to help them understand their own strengths and develop the ability to manage how they react to the stressors of operations,” he says.

David notes that veterans are often hesitant to seek help. “They are focused on accomplishing their mission, not getting mental health assistance.”

Because he graduated with a Master of Public Health from UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio, he has dedicated himself to giving back to that region. The city has a large military community, so he felt it was a logical place for this project.

With this gift, he is taking advantage of a newly created giving opportunity. As of January 2023, donors can make a one-time $50,000 Qualified Charitable Distribution—a mechanism allowing individuals 70 ½ years or older to donate money from a taxable IRA instead of taking their required minimum distribution—into a Charitable Gift Annuity. This philanthropic agreement provides the donor with a fixed income during their lifetime, and the remainder becomes a charitable gift to a non-profit of their choosing.

 “I had been thinking of supporting the school again, and this gave me the right opportunity to pursue what I wanted to do, which is to encourage faculty research and provide resources for community outreach to help veterans facing homelessness,” says David. He had previously established a professorship in disaster preparedness at the school in San Antonio.

Throughout his career, David has been an educator, health psychologist, research consultant, military officer, civil servant, author, advocate, and philanthropist.

“I have been a servant leader. I work with folks and try to bring out the best in them. That’s what teaching is for me. I try to encourage my students and give them tools, skills, and confidence,” he says.

Out of his many accomplishments, he is proudest of the legacy he created by teaching more than 1,300 graduate students since 1968.

“If you watch the response to a disaster on the news, you often see the military there providing logistics and on-scene support, and more than likely, you’re looking at someone I taught. That’s my legacy. That’s my pride,” he says.

He is professor emeritus at Baylor University, where he taught for over 40 years. A Fulbright faculty scholar, David has also chaired many NATO study groups looking at psychological fitness and support in the military. He retired as a colonel after 30 years of service.

“I’ve had a fantastic set of opportunities throughout my entire career. If you’ve gained much, you owe much. That’s my personal belief. You have to return more than you received. It’s important to do good in the world. Just do good. That’s all.”

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