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History

History of New Directions for Veterans

SINCE ITS INCEPTION, NEW DIRECTIONS HAS BEEN A POWERFUL ADVOCATE FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES.

John Keaveney served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an Army combat infantryman and left Vietnam in 1972 with a multi-use drug problem. For the next 11 years, he alternated between homelessness and incarceration until 1983, when he was court-committed to a Veterans Administration (VA) drug rehabilitation program called New Directions.

Larry Williams was 17 when he joined the Army, and one year later he found himself in the middle of the Vietnam War. Witnessing the deaths of friends and enduring gruesome conditions, Larry was left with deep emotional battle scars. For years, he was in and out of drug treatment programs and incarceration, a cycle that continued until 1986, when Larry entered the VA’s New Directions program.

Both John and Larry credit the VA’s program with saving their lives. So, when budget cuts closed the program in 1986, they saw the continuing need for its services. In 1991, John met Toni Reinis, an advocate for the homeless who had founded SOVA Kosher Food Pantry and served as Southern California Director of the California Homeless and Housing Coalition. Toni, John, and Larry established an immediate rapport, and they decided to work together to assist the large number of homeless veterans in Los Angeles County.

In 1992, New Directions acquired its first property, a home accommodating up to eight veterans. Clients could receive up to two years of housing, as well as clothing, substance abuse treatment, and job training.

Since New Directions started, over 25 years ago, we have grown into an organization with a budget in excess of $10 million annually. New Directions for Veterans employs a team of professionals who has assisted over 1,000 veterans and family members annually, reaching goals through our three program areas.