More than three years after settling a lawsuit over the misuse of its West Los Angeles campus, VA may finally be on track to provide housing, mental health treatment and other assistance to at least 1,200 homeless and disabled veterans on the 387-acre site. However, 490 units of housing won’t be ready next year as the settlement dictated.
“We knew the VA would have some struggles executing this,” says Chanin Nuntavong, director of The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation (VA&R) Division. “This is a drastic improvement where they were before,” he says, referring to the last site visit by representatives from The American Legion’s Washington, D.C., office in 2017.
Nuntavong and Roscoe Butler, deputy director of VA&R, met with Meghan Flanz – the West Los Angeles VA official overseeing development of housing and healing programs for homeless veterans – as part of a fact-finding mission Feb. 7. Michael Hjelmstad, commander of American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, and Larry Van Kuran, National Executive Committeeman for the Department of California and co-chair of the Greater Los Angeles VA Community-Veterans Engagement Board, also attended the briefing.
“Our members were concerned about what was taking so long,” Nuntavong says of the visit to campus. “I wanted to meet with the leadership here and see what’s going on so I can better inform our leadership.”