Thursday evening, February 8, 2018 the VA hosted a Veteran’s Town Hall at the Wadsworth Theater on the VA Campus. Something was different tonight. I attribute the difference to three factors. First, it looked like there were over 200 people in attendance – a record for sure. What a difference a crowd makes. The comments and questions were positive and interesting. The VA staff, this time sitting on a panel on the stage, welcomed every question like they always do, and somehow the answers were more uplifting. The audience was pulling for the staff in a new way. The Vet groups, usually so contentious, with heartbreaking cause of course, were more thankful and respectful of the enormity of the tasks at hand.
What else made a difference? The VA introduced Megan Flanz to the community. She is an L.A. native given the task of overseeing the implementation of the Master Plan. Heave a sigh of relief. Ann Brown, Heidi Marston, Ian Musa and the other VA brass finally have the help they need to shoulder the task of revamping 388 acres, servicing 1.4 million Veterans, housing Homeless Vets, running programs and working miracles for all of us.
Thirdly, Jesse Creed from Vet’s Advocacy and the CVEB (Citizens Veteran’s Engagement Board) announced he was successful in navigating no less than five separate layers of bureaucracy in the city of Los Angeles to get funding approved for the Master Plan from Proposition H and HHH. I hope you are applauding at home. The Master Plan, which funding is not yet federally appropriated for, will have to be a public private partnership. And it looks like that fact is finally meeting acceptance from Veterans. The voters, the city, the VA and the future looks a little brighter tonight.
Marcie Polier Swartz is the founder and CEO of Village for Vets