Vietnam war survivor takes over Veterans Village in San Diego

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 09:59:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Veterans Village will soon have a new leader, a champion for veterans and one herself.

Kimberly Mitchell served 17 years in the Navy, following in the footsteps of her father, Air Force Tech Sgt. James Mitchell.

"I would say it's a calling, a path I was put on way back then. That I never knew I would be on today," said Mitchell.

But for much of her life, pages were missing from her own story. Born in Vietnam in 1972, Mitchell always knew she was adopted. She was raised in Northern Wisconsin and lived a typical American life.

She went back to Vietnam a few years ago to learn more about her past, meeting with the nuns who worked at the orphanage at the time of her adoption.

Mitchell later learned she almost never made it to the orphanage.

"Right before they blew up the bridge one last survivor stumbled out carrying a bundle," Mitchell recalls. "He said he found the baby lying outside of the road, trying to nurse on her dead mother."

The baby was passed along to a Vietnamese Marine, who traveled dozens of miles to take her to the Sacred Heart orphanage in Da Nang.

That's where Mitchell's father fell in love with her and adopted her.

Now Mitchell is preparing to start her next chapter at Veterans Village, where she will bring kindness and compassion to San Diego's military veterans.

"It hurts me to see them without hope," says Mitchell.

She wants to create more partnerships, helping veterans before they end up on the street.

"It's not just one organization, it's working together to achieve a common goal."

Mitchell will take over for longtime CEO Phil Landis at the end of July.