June 10, 2022 – The Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating a suspected fentanyl overdose death on the campus. And people who work with other institutions, including the San Diego VA and the county’s Veterans Treatment Court, have expressed concerns about the quality of care provided at the rehab program.

Veterans Village of San Diego has provided counseling, employment, housing and other services for more than 40 years, and it has been lauded by dignitaries and presidents for its approach to tackling addiction and homelessness. In 1988, it founded Stand Down, a multiday event that connects homeless veterans with public services and community support. The event has been replicated in hundreds of cities, endorsed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and featured on “60 Minutes” and National Public Radio.  Employees, as well as residents themselves, have called on public officials and government agencies to address their growing concerns about Veterans Village. There are six complaints about the organization under review by the state health care department. Two lawsuits were filed last year, and two complaints were sent to the Veterans Affairs inspector general’s office in April.

Inewsource spoke with 44 people who have lived or worked at Veterans Village. Almost unanimously, they said they love and support the organization — they continue to believe in its mission and credited the institution with making “miracles” happen — but they are troubled by the conditions at the nonprofit’s flagship 224-bed treatment center on Pacific Highway.  Staff and residents say Veterans Village has deteriorated over the past few years as leadership has prioritized filling beds over providing high-quality care, admitted too many clients during a severe staffing shortage and failed to establish enough oversight to keep the campus drug-free. Photos obtained from residents show unsanitary conditions in the mess hall and bathrooms, and the quality of the food — once a hallmark of the program — plummeted last year.