By Marcie Polier Swartz
VAGLA Campus, West Los Angeles: On Monday November 27, 2017, UCLA held a reception in the VA’s Rose Garden to celebrate the completion of the Veteran Family Wellness Center and the Veterans Legal Clinic, both of which are open now.
Ann Brown, Medical Center Director of VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, always funny and selfless, acknowledged the enormity of her role and the contribution UCLA is making to meet the needs of Veterans at the VA. Her work has resulted in an upgrade from a 1 star to a 3 star rating, in less than two years.
Steve Young, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations Management, Department of Veterans Affairs, gave a stunning speech. Quoted here:
“…the collaboration that is taking place between the Department of Veterans Affairs and our partners, like UCLA, are critical to our goal of transforming the VA. But VA can’t do it alone. It takes an entire community to truly welcome Veterans home. That’s why VA leaders across the country are participating more actively in community-based efforts to maximize the collective impact of these partnerships – something we know well in Los Angeles…Legal problems – ranging from restoration of driver’s licenses to eviction proceedings, child support and family law – can often shape Veterans’ access to care, and their health outcomes…this is particularly true of our homeless Veterans. Improving the overall care of Veterans means understanding their experience, and how seemingly minor problems can have a compounding effect on all aspects of life….The UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic provides Veterans access to the legal services they need to gain their benefits and in many cases, end their homelessness….”
Los Angeles has the largest homeless Veteran population in the country. Whatever their path to housing may be, the UCLA Veteran Family Wellness Center, targeting the Veteran and their families, gives LA Veterans access to leading experts in both military to civilian transition and child and family wellness. Together, UCLA and the VA are supporting the ‘whole’ Veteran.
Mr. Young continued, “Leveraging the world’s leading experts with focused research efforts is what led to VA inventions like the nicotine patch, the CT Scan, and implantable pacemakers. That’s why I know it’s only a matter of time until we start seeing the diffusion of best practices in how to care for our homeless Veterans, coming from right her in LA with this partnership.”
Congressman Ted Lieu, a Veteran, reminded us that the UCLA Veteran Family Wellness Center is the only entity at the VA that can treat the Veteran’s entire family. Most services are focused solely on the Veteran which leaves the Veteran’s most important support group untreated.
Jonathan Varat, Dean and Professor Emeritus of the UCLA School of Law and the Chief Liaison for the UCLA partnership with the VA, thanked everyone for their support. He and his staff, which enjoy the deep commitment of Chancellor Gene Block to the UCLA/VA partnership are committed to excellence of care. They are already exceeding the requirements for sharing a piece of the VA’s 388 acres. Their clinics, centers, legal services and research will bring valuable expertise to bear on problems facing Veterans.