June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

West LA VA’s Building 209 now open for business

Judge Harry Pregerson (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit), 92, shakes hands with Carolina Barrie, whose family donated the original land for the West LA VA campus to the federal government. Judge Pregerson said that when he was a young boy, his father, a WWI veteran, told him this was “where the old soldiers go.” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald enjoys the moment.
Judge Harry Pregerson (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit), 92, shakes hands with Carolina Barrie, whose family donated the original land for the West LA VA campus to the federal government. Judge Pregerson said that when he was a young boy, his father, a WWI veteran, told him this was “where the old soldiers go.” Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald enjoys the moment.

Everyone agrees it took too long, but Building 209 on the West LA VA campus is now open.

Sixty-five formerly homeless veterans will be housed there. Twenty of these veterans will be women. The building was refurbished to the tune of $20 million.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald – who has pledged a major transformation of the West LA campus in the direction of making it very “veteran-centric” – was on hand to cut the ribbon on June 4 that marked the official opening of the homeless housing project.

The gate to the VA at the corner of Wilshire and San Vicente is now open, symbolizing a more welcoming attitude toward veterans in need. A welcoming center is also now open.  Veterans who show up at the VA will be quickly assessed at the Welcome Center to see what kind of assistance they need.

The VA and ACLU recently agreed to drop a lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless veterans in favor of working together to improve services to homeless veterans. Secretary McDonald, relatively new to the job of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, took a personal interest in the case and sought a quick and veteran-friendly settlement.

Carolina Barrie, whose family donated the original land to the VA, was there to help preside over the ribbon cutting. Earlier in the day, the main gate at Wilshire and San Vicente was opened. The land was given by Barrie’s ancestors for the purpose of creating an “Old Soldiers Home.”

Vince Kane and Bill Daniels, who are helping spearhead efforts to improve conditions for homeless veterans, stayed mostly in the background during the ceremony, but they are tasked with doing most of the hard work. A master plan is in the works. The goal is to come up with a long-term direction for the campus by October of this year.

Bobby Shriver, former Mayor of Santa Monica, and Ron Olson, an attorney with Munger, Tolles & Olson, were recognized by several speakers. They pushed the original ACLU lawsuit that was recently settled.

Lisa Pinto of Congressman Ted Lieu’s office said Lieu was tied up in Washington, D.C. and couldn’t attend, but he offered his congratulations and best wishes.

Robert Rosebrock, veteran activist who has been calling for more services for homeless veterans for years, was also in attendance. He said the VA still isn’t moving quickly enough to handle what he says is a “state of emergency” on the streets, where thousands of homeless veterans still reside.

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