Veterans Village
The Veterans Village of San Diego campus is shown on June 3, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

The second highest ranking administrator at Veterans Village of San Diego has resigned weeks after inewsource started reporting on concerns about the nonprofit’s renowned rehab center.

Veterans Village officials would not discuss what prompted the departure but indicated that the resignation was part of “problems that would not ordinarily exist within VVSD” if it were not for the media attention.

inewsource’s June investigation described troubling accounts from more than 40 Veterans Village residents and staff about the nonprofit’s drug and alcohol treatment center on Pacific Highway. The investigation revealed widespread illegal drug use on the campus, a toxic workplace culture and hazardous living conditions.

The day the investigation published, Veterans Village fired an employee who spoke out about her concerns. Soon after, lawmaker Toni Atkins, California Senate President pro Tempore, shared that she was looking into allegations about Veterans Village. Some members of Congress also began to make inquiries.

Then, on July 6, inewsource reported that a Veterans Village client was allegedly killed by her neighbor, an incident that did not surprise staff who had worried about safety issues at the transitional housing program where the residents lived. The victim, Jennelle Self, had previously shared safety concerns with inewsource about the apartment complex, which is owned by Veterans Village.

Five days after that, Veterans Village leadership told employees that John Laidlaw, the nonprofit’s chief operating officer, “has stepped away from his position here at VVSD.”

Laidlaw is a clinical psychologist who started his job at Veterans Village in August. He also serves on the executive board for the county’s Mental Health Contractors Association and was the director of clinical services at North County Lifeline, which helps youth and families with behavioral health, domestic violence prevention and other needs.

Read the full article on inewsource.org.

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Ellen Bullock