Veterans treatment center in San Diego draws attention to public works

A recent proposal to build a center in San Diego to treat military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder is a subject of debate among the community, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The project has supporters and naysayers. Supporters hope the 40-bed treatment center will help combat homelessness for struggling veterans. With San Diego home to the highest number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in the entire country, adding up to more than 28,000, it may seem the center has found an ideal location for construction.

The center plan includes a 27-person staff trained to provide veterans with educational classes, substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling and occupational and vocational therapy. Six of the 40 beds would be exclusively reserved for women veterans.

The Times article stated, “The center would provide treatment for veterans who do not need to be hospitalized but could benefit from rehabilitation services. The average stay would be 60 to 120 days.”

There are some who are against the project, like officials of Old Town Academy, a charter school located directly across the street from the intended Aspire Center site, who bring up concerns that the veterans troubled with mental health issues could pose a danger to students, the Times reported. Old Town Academy officials reported that almost 200 parents have signed a petition stating that they may withdraw their children from the school if the center opens. If this happened, the charter school could be forced to close down.

Tom Donahue, executive director and principal, explained to the Times, “We’re not anti-veteran. We just feel this is the wrong location.”

The Aspire Center project plan begins with the remodeling of a building located on San Diego Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood, previously belonging to Thomas Jefferson School of Law before it relocated.

San Diego is dealing with another issue related to veterans, regarding the Mt. Soledad veterans memorial, constructed in 1954. This memorial has been the source of debate for more than two decades, with claims that a 43-foot cross constructed atop the memorial site is representative of “government endorsing a particular religion.”

Whatever the outcome of these two separate issues, there is no question that veterans are being given thoughtful consideration in San Diego. If not in the Old Town neighborhood, wherever the veterans center lands, it is safe to say that the center will provide a “safe haven” for veterans. When looking at real estate in San Diego, it could be important to consider the state of this public works project as well as the status of the memorial at Mt. Soledad and weigh them against individual tastes and beliefs.