Vets: Help Determine a New Direction for West LA VA Campus




In 1888 John P. Jones and Arcadia B. de Baker signed a deed donating 300 Acres of West Los Angeles land to be used by the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (the precursor to the Department of Veterans Affairs) as their Pacific branch home. Over the next 127 years, the property lost it’s original focus and suffered at the hands of ineffectual government authorities who let the facility fall into disrepair and conniving interlopers from a host of organizations including a major university, an elite parochial school, and even other government agencies who wrangled large parcels for their own use (and nothing to do with veterans healthcare or well-being).

But in January 2015, VA Secretary Bob McDonald signed a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit (Valentini v Shinseki) regarding encroachment on the campus of the facility. The agreement established a nonprofit, Vets Advocacy, to serve as a partner in the West LA VA master planning process. As the first step of the process, Vets Advocacy is looking for the veteran community to voice how they’d like to see VA services provided.

“This confluence of events is unique and something that must not be missed,” said Vets Advocacy’s Dr. Jon Sherin, who ran mental health services for the West Los Angeles VA hospital. “And this is more than a local issue in Los Angeles. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our country to get it right.”

Sherin calls the VA “a sacred agency” and says while the neglect and mismanagement over the years are real, he wants to focus on the possibilities and hope. “The lawsuit is settled,” he said. “We have a VA secretary who’s a change agent and very customer oriented. Now we need the vet’s voice to drive the outcome.”

Vets Advocacy has created a website,, where veterans can find out about the history of the West LA VA campus, see the schedule of local town hall events, watch video testimonials of other vets, and — most importantly — take the survey regarding how the campus should be modified to better serve patients and the veteran community at large.

The campus is home to a chapel that has fallen into disrepair, an executive 9-hole golf course that could use a face lift, numerous buildings that need to be rehab’d, and even a theater where rock legends The Doors once performed.  All of this spell potential to Sherin who envisions veterans employment workshops (including those catering to the career fields surrounding the entertainment industry), top-notch recreation facilities, and, of course, state-of-the-art health resources.

“The masterplan is an important first step in a much longer process to realize a 21st Century VA campus,” Sherin said. “With veteran participation in taking the survey and attending town hall events around LA we’ll be able to ensure we’re headed in the right direction.”

NOW > Find out more about what vets can do to shape the future of the West LA VA campus and take the survey

ward by chris  Ward CarrollEditor-in-chief at We Are The Mighty

Ward is a retired Naval Aviator, novelist, and military commentator.He was the editor of for nine years before joining We Are The Mighty as editor-in-chief in September of 2014. 


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  • grunt

    CLOSE THE VA DOWN!!!!!!!!!! just stop wasting money and start caring for vets

  • Paul

    The devil is in the details article states:
    “But in January 2015, VA Secretary Bob McDonald signed a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit (Valentini v Shinseki) regarding encroachment on the campus of the facility. The agreement established a nonprofit, Vets Advocacy, to serve as a partner in the West LA VA master planning process.”
    Three hundred (300) acres were donated for the care of veterans. NOT 299.9 acres 300.
    If the facility is too costly to maintain then return it to the heirs of the donators; or the DAV or the VFW or the American Legion.

  • steve

    Then, if you want to take this survey, they want to either access your USAA account or you have to give your SSN. What kind of ship is that? We’re told to protect our identities and this crap website could be legit or not, who the heck knows!

  • T Clarkgerman

    As a veteran who has utilized the campus, I am one that believes it could be a great potential source of comfort and cutting edge medical innovation for all veterans. Like the overall VA system, however, it has suffered over the years – falling into disrepair (buildings – facilities, grounds, human resources – staffing, inadequately trained personnel, and perhaps more importantly – a slow moving snail by not keeping up with the times). As the article stated – the campus could be many things – however, without the innovation necessary to redress, remediate, and vision – the project is destined to be another failed venture. Come on, it’s LA by all means – reach out to all of the groups that support Vets – we have celebrities, Hollywood, world renowned universities, charities, etc who could help in partnerships, grants, leadership in organization/fund raising/and planning. The very beauty of LA is that there are shakers and movers who would be more than willing to advance the progress of the LA Campus – with little government funding. My question in summing up this posting is bring these elements into the fold – as volunteers to assist in the renovations, refitting, and re-envision this needed and important facility. I was and continue to be so grateful that I was able to receive surgical care, treatment, and therapy after my injury – when no other options were available. I for one would be more than willing to dedicate my time, effort, and hard sweat to see this campus flourish once again, for it is important and vitally needed to serve the many veterans, now more than ever. Thank you

    Dr. TL Clarkgeman, (Veteran, Sgt, USAF)

    • Jerry

      All of that was addressed in the decision. The VA was leasing out the facility to several different entities. Rental car company, Marriott for laundry services, UCLA and some others. They would not publicly state how much they were making or where the money was going. On June 8th, 2011 the ACLU filed a lawsuit representing homeless veterans with severe disabilities against Shinseki and the Greater L.A. VA Health Care system. The VA tried to have the case dismissed and on March 16th, 2012 the court refused to dismiss the case on the grounds the Veterans had a legitimate case based on Disability Discrimination. On August 29th, 2013 the court ruled the VA had violated Federal Law by leasing the facility to 11 businesses unrelated to providing care for homeless or disabled Veterans. The Brentwood School and University of California challenged that ruling, the challenge was denied. The lawsuit made a slight change with Mcdonald representing homeless veterans. But because the VA had leased out the VA property, the case was forced into a split decision. The VA was under legal contracts, even though the VA violated federal law the contracts were obligational. It wasnt 300 acres. The Campus was 393 acres. The VA had violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Rehabilitation Act and violated the Governments duties as trustees of a charitable trust. They violated their statutory authority under the HCRSA, Brentwood had a contract to use 20 acres for an athletic complex and UCLA had an agreement for use of Jackie Robinson Stadium on the property. The court found for the plaintiff’s. The other parties wanted to bring more evidence that their contracts should not be invalidated. The Judge gave them a limited time. Then vacated. The judge did not see how bringing anything else would invalidate the decision for the plaintiff’s. Secondly UCLA had been notified of the suit one day after the suit was filed and their Legal representation stated he felt the suit would not affect their agreements to use the Stadium. The plaintiffs added to the suit and UCLA wanted more time. The Judge said the notice one day after the suit was filed was the exact type of thing that “starts the clock”. even though the VA was in violation of Federal Law, the Government represented all of the businesses for their contracts. The case moved from Valentini vs Shinseki to Valentini vs McDonald. (Simply because they headed up the VA). The VA defended the businesses and lost. The Judge denied the businesses appeals. Then McDonald stepped in and they came to an agreement. Before they settled on an agreement McDonald spoke with Veterans Service Organizations and the Plaintiff’s representation. The agreement is: The Government will assist the businesses in moving off of the property, at minimal expense to the Government and no risk of being sued. In exchange the Veterans get : Homeless and Mental Health Experts will be hired to develop a strategy to help Veterans in the greater Los Angeles area. It will require :best Practices under the Housing First Model. Along with State and Local Authorities, VSO’s and the pertinent stakeholders, the new Master Plan for the Campus will be reserved for the use of aging veterans, female veterans but particularly homeless veterans. The housing on the Campus will be refurbished housing or new housing and the veterans will be given an option to accept housing on campus or to take paid housing in the community. They will be offering Veterans “Bridge Housing” and training. All facilities on Campus will be maintained under environmental and historic laws and facilities for disabled veterans will be integrated in accordance with disability laws. The VA requested (In agreement with Veterans, VSO’s, local and state authorities) to vacate the judgement and all parties would pay their own costs. The VA will be paying a reputable urban renewal planning firm to develop the strategy for the new Campus Master Plan. A national expert on homelesses will be designated to oversee and be responsible to end Veteran homelessness in the greater LA area and be responsible for overseeing the execution of the strategy. This person will be reporting directly to McDonald’s Office and State and Local authorities. The VA will include this new master plan for the Campus in its ten year Strategic Capital Investment Plan. A non profit is to be formed to work on campus directly with the VA, Federal, State and Local authorities, community partners and charitable and philanthropic entities. So the business get help moving their businesses away from Campuses and the Veterans get that. And the Vets, their reps, VSO’s, the local community, local state and federal authorities agreed to it. Sound like a win for the Vets on that one. I wasnt there or involved, I just read the decision. Of course no one will be going to jail or getting fired for violating Federal law, since the judgement was vacated.