Swords to Plowshares is a community-based organization that serves in a dual role as service provider and veteran advocate. Locally, we serve more than 3,000 veterans annually – mainly highly vulnerable or at-risk veterans – with supportive housing, housing placement and services, mental health support, job training and placement, and legal services to secure benefits and healthcare. Our model is comprehensive and rooted in the community. While the other side of who we are – veteran advocates – is lesser known, it is equally rooted in our history. We serve locally, and we advocate nationally.
Six Vietnam veterans who were concerned about San Francisco’s lack of accessible and available services for themselves and their peers founded Swords to Plowshares in 1974. The model in our early days was simple: meet veterans where they are and apply a “vets helping vets” approach that was embedded in the community. For nearly fifty years, we have fought for veterans’ rights, and we will continue to fight for marginalized veterans who have faced injustice and for our public leaders to adequately respond to the true cost of war and military service.
As part of our DEI initiatives, we have implemented cultural humility training for our staff to help them better understand and serve the diverse needs of veterans as well as their colleagues. This training covers the principles of cultural humility and emphasizes ongoing self-reflection and lifelong learning to provide an equity-centered approach to services.