Phil Landis To Retire After 20 Years At Veterans Village Of San Diego
A man who has been in the forefront of the effort to improve the lives of veterans in San Diego for more than 20 years is retiring. Phil Landis is retiring and this week asked his last stand out. The events that helps homeless veterans marks a milestone of its own this year. The 30th stand out in San Diego begins this Friday. Joining me is Phil Landis . Welcome back. Thank you. He first got involved with veterans Village through the standout event. What was about that event the got you interested in aligning yourself the organization. I wasn't planning on volunteering but somehow I got hooked. I decided to spend a few hours Friday morning which I did. There's something about the energy, I looked around and saw lots of guys like myself dealing with their trauma issues and the work done, the compassion and love on that field was something I had to have more of. That began my journey, healing and with the veterans Village. How has the standdown grown over the years? In complexity, logistics are enormous. We have almost 4000 volunteers. This is a community events, we facilitated the graded dash at the greater San Diego community. It incorporates all the service providers to provide those for the benefits of our veterans. During your years at veterans Village, you have seen the problem of homelessness among veterans, the problem of substance abuse. Has increased dramatically. Were you surprised at how much the problem increased in San Diego? Not really. When I looked at my generation, we didn't start showing up on the radar for 10 years after the conflict. We are seeing similar trend now. In San Diego, it seems to attract a lot of veterans, many who become homeless. The issues are the same today as they were in the Civil War. Anyone who is subjected to trauma of any nature but especially combat trauma will be affected by it. Sometimes those take years to manifest in a manner that puts you on the street and in harm's way.! I remind us how you guided veterans Village to step up to meet those increasing challenges. In 1990, we rented a small motel. It was in the middle of a five acre site ago we had an opportunity to acquire that site a piece at a time. We designed the five acre site to meet the needs and emerging needs of the veterans we saw coming to us. Those have shifted dramatically with the post 9/11 generation and we have evolved to meet those needs. Since 2013, veteran homelessness has decreased 29% in San Diego County. What lessons learned from decreasing veterans homelessness do you think could be applied to the overall effort to decrease homelessness? Veterans, since 2008 put for the initiative to house as many veterans as possible to permit housing. The prevention programs as well. An enormous amount of money is going in to those two purposes. In San Diego, you have $7 million a year channeled towards prevention for veterans who are at risk of homelessness. The other thing we have seen has been the rapid rise of permanent housing vouchers for veterans. This financial system, these programs, are at a much later level then you get for the overall general homeless population. It works. If you want to reduce homelessness, you have to look at it holistically. You have to spend a lot of money. You have to have patience. You have to be able to provide lots of doors. Think of it as a train station, we are on a platform. If you walk out of the pot from, what you need? Great, take train seven. I just got out of prison. I'm afraid I will relapse and I would like some help with drug and alcohol substance abuse. Take train for. Under one roof, including employment, we can help you with whatever you need. Need to do that on a systemic countywide basis. Kimberly Mitchell who previously worked for veterans service organization in Washington DC will be taking her place. What has that transition been like? First of all, I met Kimberly seven years ago when she was working for the joint Chief of Staff. I have known her for seven years and I have watched her when she left military service. She is a Naval Academy graduate. She stayed in this space and has been extraordinarily wonderful on the work she has done on a national level. Her transition is running smoothly. My job now is to introduce her at every opportunity. She is terrific. She will do a great job for the veterans here. What's next for you? Retirement is a word I don't care for. It's more like a pivot but I will stay in the battle space, in the lane of helping veterans. I know my energy will continue to help veterans in meaningful ways, ways that make a difference to them and to me as well. It has been a pleasure to speak with you over the years and hope we get to do more. I have been speaking with Phil Landis who is retiring as CEO of veterans Village.
The three-day event provides food, clothing, medical care, dental care and more to homeless veterans. The event, which runs Friday through Sunday at San Diego High School, is in its 30th year.
Landis started as a volunteer at Stand Down and eventually worked his way up to serving as CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego, a position he has held for 10 years.
"The work that was being done, the compassion, the love on that field was something that I just had to have more of, and that began, not only my healing journey, but also my journey with Veterans Village of San Diego," Landis said.
Veterans Village of San Diego focuses on the issue of homelessness among veterans and provides permanent housing for veterans.
"We want to help men and women veterans achieve a meaningful life. We would like to see them clean and sober, we would like to see them back in the main stream of society doing well, raising families, getting on with their lives, that's our mission," Landis said.
Landis will retire on July 28. He is being replaced by Kimberly Mitchell, who previously worked for a veterans service organization in Washington, D.C.
Since 2013, veteran homelessness has decreased 29 percent in San Diego County. Landis said this success can be replicated for homelessness overall.
"If you want to reduce homelessness, you have to look at it holistically and you have to spend a lot of money doing it, you have to have patience, you have to be able to provide lots of doors," Landis said.