Culver City Man Receives Presidential Citizens Medal

John Keaveney -- a Culver City man who founded New Directions, a home for homeless homeless and disabled veterans -- was among 13 Americans from across the country who received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama in a ceremony at the White House last week.

New Directions -- located in the VA Hospital in Westwood, CA, has provided housing and other services to about 20,000 veterans over the last 20 years.

The New Directions web site relates Keaveney's harrowing and heartening story:

Keaveney served two tours in Vietnam, where he was wounded and received a number of decorations and distinctions.

But after separating from the military, John had trouble readjusting to civilian life.  Just two days after returning to Los Angeles, he was arrested for driving with an invalid driver’s license and assaulting a police officer.  For the next 11 years John alternated between living on the streets and spending time in prison....Trying to ease his pain with drugs and alcohol, John developed a severe substance abuse problem.

John was court-committed to a Veterans Administration drug rehabilitation program...that ultimately turned his life around.  After the VA program was closed down due to budget cuts, John began toying with the idea of creating a nonprofit that would help veterans in the same manner as he had been helped.

In 1992, New Directions ... opened its doors and begin serving clients.  The first facility was a home in West Los Angeles that could house up to eight veterans.  Now, 17 years later, the program has assisted thousands of veterans and serves as a model treatment program.


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