Veterans Village of San Diego History
Veterans Village of San Diego was founded in 1981 as the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego.
In 1981, five Vietnam veterans, Jack Lyon, Bill Mahedy, Randy Waite, Paul Grasso, and Russ Kelly. They were struggling with the traumas of war and looking to enhance services from the VA that were available to them at that time, were sitting around in a group counseling session, talking seriously about mounting a combat assault on the VA. They knew they would probably get arrested but they were desperate to shine a spotlight on the lack of medical and psychological care for Vietnam veterans.
VVSD Founder Jack Lyon discusses VVSD history and Mission
As luck would have it, the facilitator of the counseling session was Father William Mahedy, who served as an Army chaplain in Vietnam. Mahedy made a suggestion to the group. “Why don’t you take this energy and do something that will really make a difference?”
The group took the suggestion to heart and formed Vietnam Veterans of San Diego to help their comrades who were sleeping on the streets, under bridges and in parks.
From this modest beginning, VVSD has evolved over the past three decades into a nationally-recognized , non governmental organization known for delivering innovative services to veterans.
In 2005, we changed our name to Veterans Village of San Diego to better reflect what we’ve been doing all along: helping to restore the lives of all veterans in need.
1981: Vietnam Veterans of San Diego was founded by a group of Vietnam veterans.
1984: The “Landing Zone”, a 44-bed licensed alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility, opened on 11th Avenue, with funding from County Alcohol and Drug Services.
1988: VVSD founded Stand Down and served more than 650 homeless veterans. Today, more than 200 Stand Downs take place across the country every year, based on VVSD’s model. In 2010, a record 947 veterans and family members particpated in Stand Down.
The same year “Dust Off”, an 18-bed transitional housing facility, opened on 5th Avenue.
1990: VVSD moved to 4141 Pacific Highway, its current headquarters and home of the Veterans Rehabilitation Center. The facility was a 1940s-style motel.
1990-1992: VVSD raised nearly $1 million to remodel the motel roomsinto an 80-bed licensed alcohol and drug rehabilitation center.
1995: VVSD established New Resolve, a 44-bed sober living center in Escondido.
1996: San Diego State University Sociologist Richard Hough completed a two-year scientific study of our Rehabilitation Center and concluded, “The social model program offered by VVSD is more effective than other known and tested rehabilitations for this (veteran) population.”
1997: In partnership with the City of San Diego, VVSD opened the first emergency shelter for homeless veterans.
1999: VVSD introduced the Welcome Home Family Program, a first-of-its-kind residential facility for homeless female veterans and their families.
2001: The VA awarded VVSD nearly $1 million to add 80 beds to our Rehabilitation Center. Peter Dougherty, the VA’s director of homeless veterans programs, declared,”There is no finer program for homeless veterans in America than Vietnam Veterans of San Diego”.
The same year, VVSD created Homeless Court in partnership with San Diego Deputy Public Defender Steve Binder and founders of the San Diego Child Support Program.
2005: Vietnam Veterans of San Diego changed its name to Veterans Village of San Diego.
2006: Phase One expansion of the Rehabilitation Center was completed. More rooms were added, along with a counseling center, kitchen and dining hall.
2008: VVSD dedicated the Veterans Rehabilitation Center courtyard in honor of Paul E. Nenner, a retired Air Force Officer.
2009: Phase Two expansion of the Veterans Rehabilitation Center -a new intake center, an employment and training department, medical offices and administrative offices – opened.
2010: Phase Three expansion, construction of Veterans On Point Apartments , was completed. It’s comprised of 16 three-bedroom, three-bath units.
2013: Phase Four construction, affordable housing units for veterans in need, was completed, comprised of 12 studio apartments with two beds each.
2015: Phase Five construction completed, comprised of, 9 two bedroom apartments for women veterans enrolled in our rehabilitation center, a two-chair Dental Clinic, Chapel, Gym and VOP administrative offices.
October 9, 2015: Completion of the development of Veterans Village of San Diego, 4141 Pacific Highway facility.
Veterans Village of San Diego connects with America’s veterans to overcome their homelessness and related challenges, creating lives of dignity and fulfillment.