Rehab center for wounded vets opens in Old Town

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SAN DIEGO — A once-controversial residential rehabilitation center for wounded veterans opened in Old Town Monday.

AspireVeteransCenterThe 40-bed Aspire Center, operated by the Veterans Administration healthcare system, is at the former site of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law at 2119 San Diego Ave..

The center will provide occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, psychology and social work for active-duty military personnel and veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan wounded or suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans will stay up to six months.

Officials with the adjacent 250-student Old Town Academy had fought the creation of the VA facility out of parking and security concerns, but the two sides reached an agreement in July 2012.

The Aspire Center agreed to have around-the-clock security with two guards during the school’s operating hours and will screen out patients who could pose a threat, Jeffrey Gering, the VA’s medical center director in San Diego, said when the deal was reached. He said cameras will also be installed inside and outside the building and the VA will participate in a school safety committee.

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