Historic agreement signals huge progress for LA vets and new VA Secretary
New York, NY (January 28, 2015) — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) applauded the settlement reached today between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and plaintiffs concerning the future of the West Los Angeles Medical Center. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America and 10 homeless veterans in an effort to return the full use of the land to local veterans and related programs—and specifically to battle homelessness.
“This is a historic victory for veterans, our civilian advocates, and the VA. For far too long, the Los Angeles VA Medical Center has been an enormous source of controversy, frustration and wasted opportunity for everyone involved. This land was intended to house veterans—not rental cars. Today, we are pleased to see this incredibly valuable land will finally be returned to our veterans,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “The West LA VA now has the opportunity to develop into an example of a true 21st Century VA facility. This announcement could only be achieved through a total community effort. Tremendous credit goes to VA Secretary McDonald for boldly leading on solving this festering issue. It is clear with an effort like this that there is a new sheriff in town at VA. IAVA members are grateful for Secretary McDonald’s continued focus and leadership. He is listening to our members—and taking bold action.
Rieckhoff continued: “We especially want to thank Bobby Shriver for his tireless advocacy on behalf of our veterans on this issue. Bobby kept this issue alive—when most others gave up. We also appreciate the leadership of Rep. Ted Lieu and former Rep. Henry Waxman. We also are especially grateful that the Los Angeles Times kept their powerful lense focused on the problem year after year. Most of all we send our thanks and congratulations to the plaintiffs, our brothers and sisters at the Vietnam Veterans of America, whose relentless advocacy has resulted in this victory for veterans of all generations and to IAVA members in LA and nationwide. There is still a very long road ahead with regard to implementation but today we have turned a major corner for our veterans in Southern California—and nationwide. IAVA members are standing by to help guide this process in a way that will serve our members battling homelessness, suicide and unemployment. This news couldn’t have come at a better time as ‘American Sniper’ and veteran health care issues continue to dominate the conversation nearby in Hollywood and across the nation.”
“As a local Los Angeles-area post-9/11 veteran, I think this is fantastic news,” said Jeff Park, Iraq War veteran, UC Berkeley graduate and IAVA Southern California-Area Field Associate. “This long-awaited settlement gives me hope for the future that VA and local partners can finally come together and support vets like me and my friends in the LA area.”
Jeff Park and other Los Angeles area IAVA members today met with Secretary McDonald, congressional staff, veteran service organizations and other stakeholders at the West Los Angeles VA Health System and attended the press conference with Secretary McDonald.
Southern California is home to the highest concentration of IAVA members in America. One out of every eight IAVA members hail from the state. California is also home to IAVA’s Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP), an innovative assistance programs that helps cut through red tape and provides post-9/11 veterans and families with access to services ranging across employment, education, housing, mental health and more.
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 8,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.