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Voices for Disabled Veterans Gather Outside West L.A. VA

Supporters for finding housing and care for homeless and disabled veterans celebrate the land-granting deed of 1888 outside the gates of VA building in Brentwood.

It was a celebration and a protest on Sunday, March 3 outside the front gates of the National Veterans Home at the corner of Wilshire and San Vicente boulevard in Brentwood.

Many gathered to reflect on the 125th anniversary of the deed of 1888, which granted locating and constructing a permanent home for disabled veterans. It was a day to honor those who granted the land, and a plea to expand access for disabled veterans on the West L.A. Veterans Affairs campus.

"We want to thank all the veterans here today and those that have proceeded them for giving us the freedom to gather here," said Anneke Barrie, guest speaker and granddaughter of Carolina Barrie, representing her family to honor the March 3, 1888 deed.

"It is unconscionable our government's representatives in charge of the West Los Angeles VA will not allow us to hold this celebration of the deed on the land deeded them," Barrie added. "The lack of action by our elected officials and those chosen by them to guard this precious heritage and unique gift is beyond shameful. It is criminal."

According to Robert Rosebrock, director of the Old Veterans Guard organization which hosted Sunday's event, Barrie's grandmother is a plaintiff in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the VA. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the federal government from renting some of its space to private companies that do not provide health care-related services.

In January and admittedly more than five years late, the VA broke ground to start renovations on Building 209 on campus for transitional housing for 66 veterans with mental health and medical needs.

"The National Home was meant to be a domestic environment to provide a home catering to the whole person.... intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical," Barrie told the crowd. "A place where veterans are provided living quarters, food, recreation, amusements, religious instruction, employment opportunities and medical care. This land was never to be sold, traded, bartered or leased."

Barrie said that in 1922 the West L.A. VA was a fully functioning, self sustained home for veterans of the Civil War and Spanish American War, and the facility had 722 acres of grounds, of which 150 acres were under cultivation. It had 742 hospital beds and served 4,000 hot meals daily.

"Over the years especially, since the Vietnam War, we all have witnessed the degradation and misuse of the land in violation of the donors’ intent," Barrie said. "Look at it now."

Rosebrock said they are proud for Barrie's passionate words, and she represented the descendents of Arcadia B. de Baker, who, along with Sen. John P. Jones in 1888, donated the land with the express purpose of creating a National Home for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We have great faith for the future because Anneke is very passionate and focused on helping get this land back that her Arcadia gave for veterans use only," he said.

The celebration was also hosted by AmVets Post 2 and the National Veterans Coalition.

A special thanks to Old Veterans Guard for supplying the photographs!

Louis Schillace March 08, 2013 at 05:05 AM
Not to be insensitive.....but the land is completely underutilized and needs to be re-imagined. I fully support our veterans and thank them for thier service but as it stands the greater good would be served if the land would be used to extend Montana and San Vicente to Sepulveda. We are talking life changing for west side traffic. Our government does not have the resources or the desire to maintain the property and the property is a physical barrier that makes part of our city unlivable 5 days a week. Some of the land should be open space with public roads passing through it. I know saying this is about to get me attacked on here but just thought I would throw it out there.
Francisco March 08, 2013 at 06:08 AM
"Permanently maintained". 5 Times in the Deed of Trust. It takes an Act of Congress to change an Act of Congress. Find out what Sacred Trust means, please.
Karen Honor March 08, 2013 at 09:18 AM
WOW! I am so glad that something is being done to help our Veterans. I was sort of a caregiver to one elderly Veteran a few years ago.... he would have had nothing if the V.A. center was not there... He was a a REAL Hero..... invited to dinners at The White House when Eisenhower was president ....was held in P.O.W. camps for months... saved many of his friends lives.. received the Purple Heart and just about any of the other awards one can get.... he ran for Congress was a proud owner of many a show dogs and then he got sick ,,, he had no wife no family no children no where to live.....the V.A. enter took him... of course he had to leave his dogs behind... we all found homes for them and he lived for many years right there in the V.A. center.... i think building 212 or 215 but he had a room and meals and medial care and people to talk to... he was a fallen hero and the V.A. took him in... just like they should have.. and now even more Vets need help so ROCK ON V.A.
Francisco March 08, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Also, AMVETS Post 2 DID NOT SPONSOR THIS EVENT.
Matthew Sanderson (Editor) March 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Hi Francisco. I'll double check on that, but the original flyer states the celebration was hosted by Old Veterans Guard in association with AmVets Post 2 and National Veterans Coalition.
Robert Rosebrock March 08, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Louis: But you are being insensitive to the very men and women who pledged their lives to defend our nation's freedom and independence, and became disabled in the process. This was a "Veterans Home" long before there was any Montana or Sepulveda boulevards, or even Wilshire or San Vicente boulevards -- in fact it was a Home for disabled Veterans more than thirty years before there was a Brentwood or Westwood, etc, This was a Charitable Trust Land Gift given in perpetuity to provide shelter and care for disabled and disadvantaged Veterans. Today there are 20,000 homeless Veterans, 8,000 chronically homeless, while this sacred land is intentionally "underutilized." This is a national disgrace and it's happening in your own back yard. It doesn't need to be "re-imagined." It needs to be honored in accordance with an 1887 Act of Congress and the Deed of 1888 and rebult into a new and modern Home for disabled and disadvantaged Veterans to heal from their war injuries. Please attend Sunday's 260th Sunday Rally (5th Anniversary) to "Save Our Veterans Land" and to "Bring Our Homeless Veterans HOME" at the Northeast corner of Wilshire and San Vicente Boulevards, 1:00 - 4:00 PM. Robert
Robert Rosebrock March 08, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Thank you Karen, and thanks for all your selfless service to those who gave so much on our behalf. How is it that our government can spend more than a trillion dollars over the past decade to wage two wars, but not spend any money to house and care for those who paid such a huge price? The residents of Brentwood need to stand up and demand that this sacred trust is honored and that a new and modern Veterans Home be built posthaste. Secretary of State John Kerry just gave Egypt $250 million. Who are we kidding that our government doesn't have the money to care for our disabled and homeless Veterans? This is a "Home" for disabled Veterans, not a public amusement park for the neighboring community. Thanks again for your selfless volunteer service to our Veterans. God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution! RR

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