This morning I am reading your article about vacant buildings at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration that are being considered for use to house homeless veterans and I am sorry to say that I have grown very weary of reading yet another article about something that, simply put, has not happened (“New bill to give nonprofits the reins in VA housing,” Feb. 6).
To understand my point of view you first have to understand that I came back from Vietnam in 1970 and already there were homeless veterans on Venice Beach. In the decade that followed even more began to show up, some with cardboard signs asking for help, some of those veterans lay sprawled across the sidewalks passed out cold from alcohol, others still were living in their cars, and many stood in line at St. Joseph’s seeking help and food at Bread & Roses. Sometimes those veterans were there with their wives and children.
Since then, one by one they have faded away, and just because I have not seen them any more doesn’t mean that they were lifted out of homelessness at all and I know it. It just means they are no longer here. But one place that I know they are not is at the West L.A. VA because as we read the buildings that have stood vacant since the end of the Vietnam War have been shuttered.
I have attended meetings at the VA and listened to past administrators there explain all the reasons why the buildings are closed. I have stood outside the sprawling facility with other veterans and also held cardboard signs asking for the public’s help to get these veterans and their families off the streets. I have seen for myself the New Directions organization that serves dual-diagnosed male and female veterans on the VA grounds doing their best to address the problems as best as anyone could ever hope for. I have met with the surviving family members of this area’s founding settlers who set the land aside for veterans after the end of our own civil war and I know that their hearts are in the right place, like so many of our elected representatives whose hearts are also in the right place, [but] for some confounding and frustrating reason nothing seems to be happening!
It seems yet again that there is always money for war and more war, and yet there is never enough money to take responsibility for the ones who do the fighting and carry the burdens afterward for the rest of their lives.
So, please, editor, don’t write any more articles with statistics and quotes about schemes and future plans until you can write about what has been achieved in these regards instead.