Nation’s Finest is celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year! For five decades, we’ve been dedicated to supporting America’s military veterans and their families, but a lot has changed since our founding days in 1972.

Once named Flower of the Dragon and focused on supporting Vietnam veterans in and around Sonoma County, Nation’s Finest is a nonprofit organization now operating more than 30 locations in 14 mostly rural communities in California, Arizona, and Nevada — and we are still growing. Our programs, services, and staff have all expanded so that we can continue meeting the needs of today’s veterans.

In honor of our 50th Anniversary, we wanted to take some time to reflect on these last 50 years and look back at our history through the decades.

To learn more about our history, visit

50 Years of History and Service


The 1970’s were foundational years that laid the groundwork for national recognition. Starting as a small nonprofit organization formed out of a support group for Vietnam veterans, we began to raise awareness of the issues veterans and their families faced. Our services included emergency housing, crisis counseling, job/career development, and many others.

  • 1972 — Vietnam veterans Peter Cameron and Wayne Eisenhart come up with the idea to form an organization to support fellow veterans. They started by organizing a “rap group,” similar to group therapy, for veterans to talk about their experiences and the discrimination they faced.
  • 1973 — The rap group grew to become Flower of the Dragon and was officially established as a nonprofit organization, operating almost entirely through volunteer work.
  • 1974 — Flower of the Dragon does outreach efforts in the community to raise awareness of our services and the issues veterans face. We organize a baseball team and host a community art fair with veterans’ art on display.
  • 1975 — As Saigon falls in April of 1975, Flower of the Dragon staff and volunteers perform critical roles in a dramatic airlift that extracted more than 2,000 Vietnamese children from their war-torn country to be adopted by American families.
  • 1979 — We co-sponsor and organize the first National Symposium on the Issues of Vietnam Veterans. Held on the campus of Sonoma State University, with financial support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Van Loben Sels Charitable Foundation of San Francisco, the symposium addresses the impact of war on veterans and their families.


By the 1980s, Flower of the Dragon was nationally recognized for its success and efficacy. The U.S. Department of Labor was using FOD as the standard and blueprint for other similar organizations across America. However, various internal challenges eventually led Flower of the Dragon to dissolve and re-emerge as Vietnam Veterans of California (VVC).

  • 1980 — Financial constraints lead Flower of the Dragon to move its original office space and find creative ways to secure new funding, such as locating an appropriate repository for records of Vietnam War veterans.
  • 1985 — Flower of the Dragon becomes Vietnam Veterans of California (VVC).
  • 1989 — After years of advocacy work, we help convince the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the health impacts of Agent Orange exposure on veterans and their families.


The 1990s were filled with opportunities for growth, collaboration, and partnership. We continued to provide supportive services for veterans and their families while finding new ways to grow our impact.

  • 1997 — We open a health clinic in Luong Son to serve the impoverished people of Vietnam.

2000’s Through Today

The 2000’s continued to see growth and new opportunities for expansion.

  • 2002 — We build the first of three schools in Vietnam and continue to provide medical services and nutritional training to villagers in remote areas of Hoa Binh Province.
  • 2014 — Our Board of Directors formally establishes a subsidiary, Veterans Housing Development Corporation (VHDC), to focus its resources and expertise on responding to the critical need for affordable housing for veterans and their families.
  • 2014 — We lead the efforts for California Proposition 41, which establishes a $600 million fund for affordable housing for low-income, disabled, and homeless veterans and their families.
  • 2018 — We help lead the legislative and electoral campaigns for California Propositions 1 & 2, which establish $6 billion for affordable housing and home ownership for low-income individuals, including veterans.
  • 2019 — One of our co-founders, Peter Cameron, retires as President and CEO after 47 years of outstanding service. He is replaced by Chris Johnson, who joins the agency following successful leadership roles at the American Red Cross, Woodcraft Rangers, and Mending Kids International.
  • 2020 — Recognizing the need to stand out among the estimated 40,000 veteran organizations nationwide, we change our name to Nation’s Finest.

Learn More About Our History

To learn more about our 50 years of history, our heritage, and the major milestones that shaped who we are today, visit the Nation’s Finest 50th Anniversary website at