An unexpected donation of land and a four-story building in Sonoma County has ramped up a Tracy woman's plans for a retreat center to segue soldiers from the battlefield to civilian life.
The building, in final phases of construction on a wooded hillside outside idyllic Guerneville, and 2 acres of farmland will serve as a pilot location for Nadia McCaffrey's Veterans' Village, a self-sustaining counseling and job-training center for armed forces members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.
A World War II veteran, who wants to remain anonymous, made the donation late last month after hearing McCaffrey speak in Petaluma two months ago about her vision for the Veterans' Village program.
"He is a veteran himself. He understands what they are going through when they come home," McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey's son, Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, a National Guard soldier, was killed by the Iraqi troops he was training in 2004. A nonprofit organization McCaffrey founded and named for her son is heading up the project and expects it to be serving as many as 16 veterans by the end of November. ...
A soldier who served in the National Guard with McCaffrey's son volunteered to redeploy to Iraq in July rather than cope with the transition to civilian life, said McCaffrey, who has kept in touch with soldiers who served with her son. The soldier, whom McCaffrey did not name, had taken to heavy drinking and risky behavior as he attempted to settle back into civilian life, McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey continues to pursue plans for a $25 million main Veterans' Village campus in North Carolina, where she has been working with local veterans groups, and she envisions satellite villages around the country to offer aid to the hundreds of thousands of veterans returning from war.
Since 2002, 686,306 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have left active duty and are eligible for health benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the agency. One-third of those veterans - 229,015 - have been evaluated by Veterans Affairs, and slightly more than a third of them were diagnosed with mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
[UPDATE Oct 22, 2007]: Related report from San Francisco ABC News: