SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A few days a week you'll find Rick Salde standing outside Montessori East County Preschool and Infant Care.
"I'm actually guarding it [and] keeping my eyes on it and making my presence known," said Salde. "[We] military, are trained to give up our life. You know what I mean? What's most important is these children across the street here in the open. We want to protect them."
Salde is a Vietnam veteran.
He said when the news broke about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 dead he was angry and hurt.
"Thinking how could this happen in our great country," he said.
He knew he had to do something so he approached the Montessori.
"I love this community and we're a really tight-knit community. So, I'm here to honor this community with my service," said Salde.
The school said rick isn't armed and his presence has already helped ease teachers' nerves.
"With the veteran, with Ricky, outside our school, just keeping an eye on us, just making his presence known, she feels like she can focus in on the kids and not what's outside of the school," said Andrea Laub, director of Montessori East County Preschool and Infant Care.
The infant care and preschool serve infants to five-year-olds.
The school's owner, Donna Bridgeman, and director have nothing but gratitude for Rick's mission.
"I feel we have a very safe location. The sheriff's department is one block away, but I'm sure all the schools felt safe at one time. It just takes one person to change the lives of many. We're very appreciative he's here. We love our community," said Bridgeman.
The veteran is now reaching out to other veterans and asking them to do the same in their free time.
"That's my goal to see this throughout the nation," said Salde.