Friday, June 10, 2011

I Am Ashamed of the West LA Veterans Administration

I have lived in West Los Angeles for over 30 years and, many times as I’ve driven by the grounds of the West LA Veterans Administration, I have admired the large open areas of well-tended grass.

After reading the June 9th Wall Street Journal opinion piece “Why Wounded Warriors Sleep in Dumpsters,” I am ashamed of having admired the well-tended grass that, it turns out, was intended since 1888 to be land for housing our wounded warriors.

Those of you who read this blog know that I frequently write about PTSD and efforts to help those military personnel suffering from the effects of PTSD.

Here are the facts presented by the opinion piece’s writers Laurence Tribe and Bobby Shriver:

• Los Angeles has “some 8,200 homeless veterans” of the “roughly 107,000 homeless veterans in America” suffering from conditions such as PTSD

• In 1888 “a 387-acre parcel of land, the West Los Angeles VA Campus,” was donated to the federal government “for the specific purpose of permanently maintaining a soldiers’ home.”

• The land was used for this purpose until the Vietnam War when “the government put buildings and land formerly dedicated to veterans’ therapeutic housing to other, more lucrative uses.”

At the end of this blog post I’ll give you the link to read the entire article yourself. But here is an important point to me although not stated explicitly in the opinion piece:

There may be services to help veterans suffering from PTSD – but if they are so damaged that they are homeless, they are unlikely to be able to arrive at the VA facilities for scheduled PTSD treatment.

The following from the opinion piece is what really made me ashamed:
Today, where the disabled homeless vets of Los Angeles should find a home, they'll instead find a car-rental business, a private swimming pool, a dog run, an oil well, an 18-hole golf course, and a unit that launders linen for nearby luxury hotels.
The opinion piece writers announce that on June 8th a group of homeless veterans filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court – Valentini v. Shineseki – against the federal officials responsible for their situation.

The opinion piece goes on to say:
Valentini v. Shineseki, which we helped these disabled veterans file, asks only that the government keep the solemn promise it made when it accepted the land as a charitable gift: provide the housing.
As my husband, a veteran from the Vietnam War-era, said, “With the construction industry suffering, there should easily be the ability in Los Angeles to start constructing housing for vets right now on that land. Why doesn’t the head of the VA Administration come here right now and make it happen?”

If any of you reading this post can use your political clout to make the VA Administration immediately start to remedy this situation in Los Angeles, please do so. The current situation is a shame on all of us.

Read the entire opinion piece now.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

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