Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty recently was awarded a double honor for his work to end veteran homelessness at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans' annual conference in Washington, D.C.
First, Dougherty was unanimously elected to the organization's board of directors. The NCHV is widely recognized as the nation's premier training event for community-based organizations that provide housing and supportive services to more than 100,000 homeless and at-risk veteran families each year.
Throughout his 19-year tenure as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' director of homeless programs, Dougherty served as the chief adviser on homeless veterans to seven secretaries of the VA. He maintained close ties to hundreds of NCHV member organizations in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
During the NCHV's awards banquet, NCHV President and CEO John Driscoll introduced Dougherty as the “most inspiring leader in the history of the homeless veteran assistance movement. Virtually every program in place to help homeless veterans in the nation today bears his mark, and the veterans we all serve have had no better friend and ally.”
The Home Depot Foundation's executive director Gaven Gregory and NCHV also announced the recipient of the first Pete Dougherty Award for Excellence in Supportive Housing for Homeless Veterans. The award is presented to an organization that's created affordable housing for veterans with disabilities and veteran families struggling with extreme poverty.
Dougherty served as the principal adviser to the foundation as it planned its Veterans Initiative, a three-year project to grant $30 million to community-based organizations to increase housing opportunities for homeless and extreme low-income veterans.
The award recognizes Dougherty's leadership in the creation of the single-largest private corporate contribution in the history of the campaign to end veteran homelessness.
Community Hope of Parsippany, New Jersey, won the inaugural Peter Dougherty Award for its Valley Brook Village, a 62-unit garden apartment development for veterans with combat-related traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other physical disabilities. Another 50 housing units are being built now.
As part of the award presentation, Community Hope received a $50,000 grant from the foundation to provide services to Valley Brook Village residents.
Other leaders at the NCHV annual conference included: Then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, VA National Director of Homeless Programs Lisa Pape, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Laura Zeilinger and Mark Johnston, former HUD Assistant Deputy Secretary for Special Needs Populations.
Dougherty also is a member of the board of trustees at Davis & Elkins College. A New Jersey native, he graduated from D&E in 1975. He resigned from the VA to accept the Jefferson County Commission's appointment as sheriff last year. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary in May and is running for a four-year term on Nov. 4.