Debts that can’t be repaid … and debts that can


They went and fought for our lives. They shouldn’t come home and have to fight for theirs.

By Melinda Henricks, Staff Writer

With an onslaught of veterans returning home with disorders such as drug and alcohol abuse, PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury), and clinical depression, something needs to be done to protect our veterans here at home.

Statistics show our veterans are suffering from many illnesses and need their government more than ever.

Statistics compiled by the Congressional Research Service in conjunction with the Rand Corporation and released in Sept. 2014, indicate the following: out of 8.2 million veterans, 2.7 million have PTSD, 39 percent suffer from alcohol abuse, 3 percent from drug abuse, 19 percent from depression, and suicide rates are 5,000 to 8,000 per year. Sadly, 50 percent of these veterans don’t seek treatment.

California tried to help its veterans when it passed the Veteran’s Bond Act in 2000. The $120-million bond, matched by Veterans Affairs for a total of $240 million, was designated to build four state-of-the-art veterans’ residential facilities to house approximately 400 patients each.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke ground on the project, but something went wrong. Since the groundbreaking, only one facility has been built. It is half empty and does not have a kitchen.

This has halted plans for completing the project and now has turned litigious. No other homes have been built and a lawsuit ensued. City Council members from Henry Waxman to Ted Lieu are in disbelief. Mayor Eric Garcetti demanded answers.

During this time, some educational institutions are leasing the property for sports activities, which may be a violation of the use contract.

Part of the property is currently being leased by UCLA as a practice field.Brentwood school has used some of the land for basketball and baseball practice. This seems to have raised community ire as the land was donated by a family and is in a trust for sole use by veterans.

The time for finger pointing is over; it’s time to move forward, what is gone is gone. We are talking about 387 acres of available space on which to build four residential facilities. Yet no buildings have been built, or property destroyed, so let’s get on with the original intention and get some housing and proper facilities for our guys!

The next order of the day should be an answer to this question: Who is minding the store? Is anyone in charge of this project?

We need to provide for the men and women that have served us so well! This center in Westwood was once a well-developed community that was self-contained and served the purpose that the donating family intended.

Let us be “good shepherds” unto our wounded and bring them home to a place where they can heal and become members of a society that embraces them! We need proper infrastructure that reflects their needs. There must be rehabilitation for alcohol and drugs as well as psychological services for PTSD, TBI and depression. And yes, at the very least, there must be a kitchen.

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