April 21, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Brentwood News Q&A with the VA

Brentwood News: What do you make of all this “things aren’t right at the VA these days†talk?

VA: First, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VA GLAHS) mission is to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. VA GLAHS is fully committed to providing exceptional health care for our Veterans through a patient-centered care model.

Jan 2011, VA GLAHS was selected by the VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation as one of four regional implementation teams for demonstrated excellence in producing cultures of patient-centered care.
In addition, for the second year in a row, VA GLAHS has shown marked improvement in performance, making 2010 our best year ever for meeting or exceeding all inpatient and outpatient quality targets. Our performance is now outstanding across not only the Network but also the Nation.

Brentwood News: Do you think how the VA goes about fulfilling its mission (mostly medical, it seems) is consistent with the original deed that calls for a “permanent home for disabled volunteer soldiers†?

VA: The 1888 deed granting West Los Angeles land to form a charitable trust requiring the VA, as trustee of the purported trust, to maintain a National Home for Veterans is consistent with the original deed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided the creation of the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS) in the same year the land was originally deeded satisfied the terms the grantors sought in donating the land. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice holds that the land use suggested in the Draft Master Plan (DMP) is consistent with the fact that the United States received title to the land void of any underlying restrictions.

The expansive campuses of the NHDVS system – and the system itself – become vestiges of the past when the reality of modern warfare exhibited in World War I changed the requirements of Veteran’s care.

Hospital costs for the returning Veterans outweighed domiciliary costs by a factor of 3-to-1, resulting in a shift of priorities that emphasized the construction of hospitals and medical care and evolved into the modern Veterans Administration.

In fact, this transformation resulted in a much more homelike environment for Veterans than was experienced during the NHDVS era when the campus was run like a structured military unit with uniforms, officers, and formations.

Brentwood News: If ACLU files a suit, how do you intend to respond?

VA: VA GLAHS cannot respond to the Suit to be filed by ACLU because we have not seen the contents of the suit.

Brentwood News: Might the VA consider providing more housing on the WLA campus? Anything more that can be done for homeless Veterans?

VA: The Draft Master Plan states that buildings 205, 208 and 209 will be converted at a future date to serve as housing for homeless veterans, starting with Building 209 because it is the only building that has, to date, received the necessary funding.

As stated in the DMP, VA “…does not commit to any specific project, construction schedule, or funding priority.†As each project is authorized and funded for construction, each will undergo a planning and approval process that will address the needs of the Veterans and take into account the historical and environmental impact of the project. Building 209 is currently in the design phase.

In addition, VA GLAHS in collaboration with Federal, County and local government and non-profit agencies implemented “Project 60†, an initiative to move 60 of the most vulnerable, chronically homeless Veterans off the streets and into permanent supportive housing using a Housing First approach. The goals of Project 60 are to engage homeless Veterans and get them off the streets into permanent housing; provide resources and services to stabilize and improve health; and facilitate and promote continued independent living in the community.

Furthermore, VA GLAHS has one of the most recognized programs in the nation for serving homeless Veterans, called the Comprehensive Homeless Center. The Comprehensive Homeless Center has many components dedicated to providing shelter for homeless Veterans including access to extended residential care for Veterans with serious mental health and medical problems through the VA GLA Domiciliary which has 321 beds.

Comprehensive Homeless Center has case management of over 1,500 Veterans with mental health issues living independently in the community through the HUD-VA Supported Housing Program along with case management of approximately 300 veterans with a diagnosis of mental illness in board and care and assisted living facilities.

In addition, there is same-day access to primary care, mental health care, and housing placement at the centralized screening clinic and specialty dual diagnosis housing programs for Veterans with both mental health and substance abuse issues.

VA is particularly proud of the transitional housing programs it has developed at VA GLA where approximately 1,200 community transitional housing beds have been secured for homeless veterans. Veterans in transitional housing programs stay for three to 18 months while receiving a range of medical, mental health and rehabilitative services; a high percentage of veterans who complete this transitional housing program move on to independent housing.

The Comprehensive Homeless Center has an active outreach program. Great efforts are made to locate homeless Veterans at homeless congregating areas like shelters and rescue missions. Outreach efforts also include area jails for incarcerated homeless Veterans.

Brentwood News: Will the VA be phasing out all the leases with outside entities?

VA: VA GLAHS will maintain current land use agreements and lease arrangements. When they individually expire, renewal will be based upon the criteria established in the Draft Master Plan. Renewal of these existing land use agreements, as well as any new land use agreements, must adhere to the guiding principles and criteria set forth in the DMP. Furthermore, each of the existing agreements must benefit the Veteran’s community in some way.

New projects or agreements for the limited use of land or buildings on the WLA campus, not covered by VA’s Strategic Capital Investment Planning (SCIP) process and/or Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Plan, will be evaluated against VA’s mission and the DMP objectives and guiding principles established.

Brentwood News: Anything else?

VA: VA GLAHS exists to serve the Veteran through the delivery of timely quality care by staff who demonstrate outstanding customer service, the advancement of health care through research, and the education of tomorrow’s health care providers.

Guest Editorial by
Peter Eliasberg, ACLU

Peter Eliasberg, head of the LA Chapter of the ACLU, will write a guest editorial in the next Brentwood News.

in News
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