Judicial Watch Accuses Los Angeles VA of Booting Veteran Orgs That Actually Help Vets.
The Los Angeles VA has long come under fire for everything from corruption to illegally renting its sprawling properties to big companies that do not service veterans. Now Judicial Watch says that the Veterans Affairs facility evicted some nonprofit organizations that actually help veterans.
Judicial Watch reported (emphasis mine):
It marks the latest of several scandals involving the misuse of this VA property, where a top official pleaded guilty to multiple felonies last year for taking bribes from a parking lot operator that defrauded the agency out of millions. This month at least five established nonprofits dedicated to providing veterans with therapeutic activities, counseling and other valuable survival skills have been evicted while private businesses that don’t benefit vets remain. The Jewish War Veterans is among the organizations that just got kicked out along with Twilight Brigade, the Disabled American Veterans, Vet-to-Vet and the Association for Parrot C.A.R.E., which provides therapeutic activities for vets at its parrot sanctuary. A local newspaper reported the latest travesty at the southern California VA this week, but Judicial Watch has for years investigated, sued and obtained government documents involving the VA’s illegal use of this parcel.
The Los Angeles VA has over 300 acres in West Los Angeles. According to Judicial Watch, the land parcel was deeded to them in 1888 for the expressed purpose of caring for disabled veterans. The land used to have living space for thousands of disabled veterans – they even had churches, a library, and a theater. Those facilities were “quietly” closed in the 60s and 70s, and veterans were “ousted” from the facilities.
An audit last year found that 63% of the leases regarding the property were “improper”, according to the Daily Breeze. Now they’ve gone through a current list of organizations on the property and terminated any of them that didn’t have a “current agreement.” but that included groups like those listed above as well as the American Red Cross and the US Postal Service.
“A stadium for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) baseball team, an athletic complex for a nearby private high school, laundry facilities for a local hotel, storage and maintenance of production sets for 20th Century Fox Television, the Brentwood Theatre, soccer practice and match fields for a private girls’ soccer club, a dog park, and a farmer’s market” are among the things currently on the property.
Judicial Watch has sued the Los Angeles VA over the course of the last decade, and not just for FOIA documents. They also advocated for a veteran who was arrested while protesting the Los Angeles VA. In 2016, a veteran member of the “Veterans Old Guard” (Robert Rosebrock) was arrested when he protested their illicit dealings in 2016. His crime? Posting two 4×6 inch American flags on the outside fence to the property. He was found not guilty.
Dannion Brinkley, a Marine Veteran and founder of the Twilight Brigade, says his group has spent 33,000 hours at the besides of dying veterans, and that never cost the VA a dime.
“I know how much time is spent at that bedside and I know how bad the patients need volunteers to come by, to ask how are you doing, and care about them, and appreciate them. It cost the VA nothing, I paid for everything except space.” Dannion Brinkley to the Daily Breeze
Their eviction notice said they had to be out by February 6. Others had to be out in January. Now they are all on the hunt for space.
The Local newspaper Daily Breeze reported,
Mathew Millen, commander of the Jewish War Veterans Post 118, also been seeking answers for months. The post was given a 30-day notice to vacate in December after using a conference room for meetings for five years. The group meets on Sundays when the room is not in use, providing education and socialization for group members, Millen said.
Both uses are defined as acceptable in the West Los Angeles Leasing Act.
In an email to Millen, Lori Moore, the health-care systems’ contract manager, wrote that the veteran services organization did not provide direct services “exclusively or principally for Los Angeles-area veterans.” His post — consisting of about 25 veterans — used the conference room only 12 hours total per year and has donated more than $3,000 in gifts that it delivers to patients on Christmas Day each year.
So as usual, instead of using some kind of common sense in their application of leasing rules, they have made a hash of it. Is it all about the money again?