VA CAMPUS — Nearly 400 elderly and disabled veterans will soon have a new housing and long-term care facility to call their own, following the official opening on Monday of the West Los Angeles Veterans Home.

The $253 million facility is located on 17 acres in Westwood that the U.S. Veterans Administration gave to the state of California to operate an assisted living and skilled nursing facility for those who were honorably discharged from the armed services.

Gov. Schwarzenegger traveled to Los Angeles for Monday’s dedication ceremony.

“This will be a place where our veterans can be comfortable and honored, the least they deserve for serving our country in uniform,” he said. “I am very proud of the work my administration has done on behalf of our military men and women and I promise that we will continue to do everything in our power to make sure all our veterans, young and old, are treated with the respect and dignity they have earned.”

With 396 beds, the home will be the state of California’s sixth facility for veterans once it begins admitting applicants by this fall. It will provide services and amenities for veterans who are unable to live independently, including a dementia and Alzheimer’s unit.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs contributed approximately $142 million to the project, according to a press release from the governor’s office. An additional $111 million for the facility came from state general obligation bonds and lease revenue bonds.

While it’s possible the facility could house homeless veterans living in Los Angeles County, the care offered at the home will be geared toward severely injured and elderly veterans who require regular attention, said J.P. Tremblay, deputy secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs. The facility will not be equipped to handle those with substance abuse problems or severe mental illnesses, he said. Veterans will have to be clean and sober to be admitted.

Located at 800 Bringham Ave. on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare campus, patients at the facility will have access to both federal and state medical personnel.

Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony came three years after CalVet broke ground on the facility, and two decades since California officials began discussing the idea of a state-run veterans home in Los Angeles, Tremblay said.

CalVet recently dedicated veterans homes in Ventura and Lancaster. State-operated facilities for veterans are also located in Yountville, Chula Vista and Barstow, and the state broke ground on two additional veterans homes last month in Fresno and Redding.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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