In 1974, Swords to Plowshares started with a single grant and a small location on Valencia Street. Now, over 40 years later with an annual budget of $19 million, we are still doing the same thing we set out to do — heal the wounds of war, restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to prevent and end homelessness and poverty among veterans.
From the beginning we’ve accomplished our mission by providing wrap-around services to veterans in our community, and advocating for improved care and services for all veterans. We have been at the forefront of the veterans’ rights movement since 1974, when six Vietnam veterans, frustrated with the inadequate system of care for veterans, founded Swords to Plowshares.
Swords to Plowshares is nationally recognized for our model programs, expert leadership and continued dedication to fighting on behalf of our nation’s veterans. Here are a few reasons why…
The public did not want to be reminded of the Vietnam War and could not separate their negative feelings about the war from the warriors. Vietnam veterans were not only rejected by the public, but also by groups like Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This was a time when policy affecting veterans was controlled by these agencies which blatantly neglected Vietnam veterans and depicted them as villains.
The American public began discussing the Vietnam War and made concerted efforts to understand the struggles veterans faced during combat and coming home.
Also, during this time public funding allowed community-based organizations to provide housing to homeless veterans. Programs for homeless veterans began to build momentum and support with the help of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Prior to the 1980s, the VFW and American Legion were the only veteran service organizations with any clout. The efforts of homeless veteran advocates, the availability of public funding, and the new generation of Gulf War veterans all helped to create inroads for groups like Swords to Plowshares.
In the years following 9/11, services for veterans and their families began expanding all over the country to respond to the needs of Post-9/11 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, we as a nation began reflecting upon the mistakes made when Vietnam veterans returned from war, and we implemented policies based on those lessons learned. Today, Swords to Plowshares continually works to improve our programs and services to help veterans make a successful transition from combat to our communities.