It’s a New Day at the WLA VA

Craig Joyce, LCSW, Director of Veteran Services, PATH and Oliver Viletta receiving the keys to his car supplied by the Village for Vets Income Stipend. Photo by PATH.

By Marcie Polier Swartz

Our year of articles for Yo! Venice is drawing to a close. Next month’s issue will be our last article in the series we’ve been authoring to keep our communities eyes and hearts focused on the amazing changes going on at our VAGLAHS. This month we will focus on our accomplishments these past 11 months. Next month we’ll focus on the new programs that we are planning.

From that first phone call I received from the VA in early 2016 asking for food for homeless Vets we now provide over 300 meals a week to the VA. Meals on Wheels of West Los Angeles and the Westside Food Bank are our partners. This program is not free. It costs money for Meals on Wheels to supply sandwiches, milk, water, and the most expensive portions are the shelf stable meats and snacks supplied to the Safe Parking, L.A. program on campus where refrigeration is not an option. Pat Cohen, one of the founders of Safe Parking, L.A., reminds us how important this food is. For some of the program’s participants, this is the only food that they look forward to each day. Donors and Volunteers welcome. Contact us at [email protected]

This year we are Co-Chairs of the Homeless to Housed Stand Down. We’ve learned a lot along the way like how rewarding it is to extend a hand to homeless veterans; how they appreciate the new clothing, medical and legal assistance and delicious food.  In fact, they ask for the ‘breakfast burritos’ supplied by Maria’s Italian Kitchen which has become a draw like Grandma’s biscuits on Sunday. That breakfast helps to identify our Stand Down.  Make sure to volunteer this year when the flyers come into your email folders. Sign up for our newsletters, we don’t send too many!

Our Paint’nSip art program was so popular with the women Vets that the men have asked for their own event which we will be mounting for Father’s Day. We now sponsor four Paint’nSip events during the year.  Our Income Stipend program awarded a deserving Veteran with a car, two car seats for his young boys, and car insurance for one year. Approximately ten Veterans who have worked hard enough to gain independence lose it every month due to an inability to earn enough to get by. Village for Vets mission is to help these Vets. It is quite understandable, allowable and supportable to prop up Veterans who have a hard time. We need more words in the English language for citizens who uplift the community and who might not earn enough by working. Want to suggest some at [email protected]? Just put “new words” in the subject line.

Our mission: Village for Vets provides community-based volunteer and financial support to the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) for the most vulnerable Veterans they serve.

Take pride in helping the VA. We look forward to your support.