Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Major House Cleaning Needed at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home

By Robert L. Rosebrock, Staff Writer

The bureaucrats at the VA Greater West Los Angeles Healthcare System (VA GWLAHS) have once again crossed swords with Veterans, and once again they have stabbed Veterans in the back.

Sunday, March 1, was “Veterans Appreciation Day” as fellow Veterans gathered on the sacred grounds of the “Great Lawn” at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home to pay tribute to John P. Jones and Arcadia B. de Baker.

It was on March 3rd, 1888, that these two American patriots benevolently deeded this pristine land to the U.S. government with the repeated proviso that it was “to be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.”

Land Being Prostituted and Raped
Tragically, over recent years this sacred land has been violated, abused and misused in every manner imaginable. The egregious abuse extends from the prostituting of Veterans land and facilities to the highest non-Veteran bidder to the raping of 16 acres of virgin soil where Veterans from the Civil War once walked by giving it away “rent-free” to a wealthy neighboring homeowners group for a “grand community park.”

And once again, the bureaucrats at VA GWLAHS targeted fellow Veterans and friends of Veterans by singling them out and punishing them simply because they revere and celebrate this hallowed land and want to protect, preserve and defend it exclusively for today’s Military Veterans as well as future generations of Veterans.

Delay, Delay, Delay
Julio Yniguez, the highly respected 77 year-old Adjutant of the American Legion Post 123 of Santa Monica, applied for a use permit with the office of “asset management” at the VA GWLAHS to host the Veterans Appreciation Day and Anniversary Celebration, and he did it with advanced notice.

Nonetheless, the bureaucrats of “asset management” continuously delayed approval, which complicated the coordination of this event. The intentional delay prevented strategical planning and also prevented the sending out of invitations far enough in advance for interested parties to attend the event.

Inhuman Treatment
As though the intentional delay was not insulting enough, the “asset management” bureaucrats would not allow the attendees of the event to have general access to the restrooms on the ground floor at Veterans building #220, which was just a short distance away from the gathering on the “Great Lawn.”

Several of the Veterans who attended were disabled; one in particular was Steve Palmer, a popular 86 year-old World War II Veteran in a wheel chair. Plus, there were several Korean War Veterans in their 70s and 80s, while the majority were Vietnam War Veterans in their 60s.

For Veterans to unite on this solemn day to pay tribute to the land donors of this sacred property for Veterans use only, and then have VA GWLAHS bureaucrats deny Veterans use of restroom facilities, the very basic of human accommodations, defies any ounce of decorum, respect, civility and common dignity toward the very men and women who served this country, and for whom these VA bureaucrats are hired and responsible to serve.

Once again the VA GWLAHS refused to accommodate America’s Veterans with basic courtesy and respect. Instead, they rubbed more salt into a very old, deep and painful wound through even more abuse and disrespect.

More Respect in Other Countries
During World War II, including virtually all other Wars, America's soldiers were welcomed and respected on foreign soil. Today, some of those same soldiers are not even welcomed or respected on their own Veterans land here in the USA.

At yesterday's event, the VA GWLAHS even had a "site monitor," an employee from “asset management,” observing our every move and spoken word.

What an incredibly sad, sad state of decline this once great nation has fallen into when those who have defended our many freedoms are now being denied these same freedoms in their own country, on their own exclusive land, and by our own government.

It's time for the bureaucrats at the VA GWLAHS to stop fighting against Veterans and put their hateful swords in their sheaves and do the job that they were hired to do, which is to serve all Veterans with equal respect and dignity, not to antagonize, berate, belittle, begrudge and insult them.

Honoring General Shinseki
At yesterday’s event that paid tribute to the Land Grantors, Veterans also honored in absentia, General Eric K. Shinseki, the newly appointed Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C.

Mr. Yniguez gave the new VA Secretary glowing praise for his distinguished military career and offered new hope that during his watch, things will be different and more Veteran friendly.

Make no mistake; this dirty mess at the largest VA healthcare center in the nation is not the creation of General Shinseki, nor is it of President Obama’s making.

To the contrary, this ugly mess has been building up over the past two decades under the Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush Administrations, but it has now reached an embarrassing all-time high of shameful abuse and neglect.

Time to Clean House at “The Home”
As the new and entrusted “watch commander” for America’s Military Veterans, it is now General Shinseki’s duty and responsibility to take full control and extinguish this flaming, out-of-control abuse against Veterans and their sacred land.

There’s only one solution and it’s that the new Secretary must immediately “clean house” at the National Veterans Home.

Accordingly, Ralph Tillman, “asset manager” at the VA GWLAHS must be relieved of his duties posthaste, as he has persistently acted in defiance toward Veterans while kowtowing and facilitating the neighboring communities and commercial businesses with sweetheart land deals.

It was the “asset management” office under his supervision that stabbed Veterans in the back by not only delaying the approval of the permit for the Veterans celebrative gathering on the “Great Lawn,” but also denying these Veterans of a most basic human accommodation by not providing restroom access at nearby Veterans buildings on Veterans land.

Who Do They Really Work For?
As the “asset manager” and “contracting officer” of the VA GWLAHS, Mr. Tillman has facilitated, negotiated and signed off on a multitude of privileged “enhanced sharing land use agreements,” including the 21 acres of Veterans land to the most expensive private school in the nation, Brentwood School.

In another long-term agreement, he leased away two Veterans theaters to Richmark Entertainment Group for a “community cultural center” while Veterans who are patients at the VA GWLAHS have no theater or entertainment of their own.

Mr. Tillman has leased away acres and acres of Veterans land to Enterprise Car Rental and Laidlaw Buses for vehicle storage and further leased major Veterans buildings to UCLA for research studies while 20,000 Veterans are homeless in Los Angeles.

Mr. Tillman facilitated and recently signed away 16-acres of Veterans land “rent free” for a “grand community park,” even though this parcel of Veterans land is estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars while Veterans healthcare services are seriously under-funded.

Not Professional
Instead of Mr. Tillman’s “asset management” office asking Mr. Yniguez, "how can we help" with Sunday’s event, they deliberately worked against Veterans every step of the way and persistently ran interference on this most sacred and historical day of the National Veterans Home.

If Mr. Tillman were a real professional “asset manager” for which he was hired on behalf of Veterans and their land, then he and all members of his office staff would have proudly joined and celebrated this honorable occasion instead of intimidating and begrudging America’s Veterans.

“Dereliction of Duty”
Mr. Tillman’s “asset management” office also facilitated Veterans Park Conservancy, not a Veterans organization by any stretch, to plagiarize and denigrate America's revered watchword of “Duty, Honor, Country,” by allowing this special-interest homeowners group to irreverently engrave in stone on Veterans property, “Beauty, Honor, Country,” because it's their group's mission to beautify the entryway into their community of Brentwood.

These are only a few of the many violations against Veterans and the Deed of 1888 facilitated by Mr. Tillman. The bottom line is that Veterans do not need an “asset manager” who prostitutes away their sacred land and revered heritage for the benefit of non-Veterans.

To the contrary, Veterans need a responsible and caring steward who reverently protects, preserves and defends their land from the aforementioned land heists by fully respecting and honoring the Deed of 1888.

There’s Only One Asset at Any VA Facility
Veterans’ sacred land is not a business or a commercial "asset," i.e., “a property to which a value can be assigned.” No, the only “real asset" at any VA facility is each and every Veteran and the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to manage the healthcare services of these Veterans first and foremost.

In short, no price or value can be assigned to any single Veteran and his or her healthcare and rehabilitative needs.

Change the Name and Attitude
The bureaucratic name of "asset management" is a term that needs to be replaced along with Mr. Tillman’s defiant attitude. How about changing the name to “property protection" and the manager’s title to “property steward?”

This would certainly indicate that the VA GWLAHS is actually serious about taking care of our Veterans "needs" and their land instead of running a real estate brokerage company and facilitating the "wants" and whims of the neighboring community and commercial businesses.

This sacred land and the buildings upon it must be returned to the Deeded promise for Veterans use only, and the must change the existing negligent and belligerent attitudes while restoring the revered grandeur and glory of this beloved National Veterans Home.

Time For Change
For way too long, this sacred land has been violated, abused and misused at the painful expense of America’s Military Veterans.

It’s time for change and that means the Department of Veterans Affairs must put an end to all of these manipulative and deceptive “enhanced sharing land use agreements” by terminating them posthaste, including rescinding the special interest public park agreement.

Albert Einstein rightfully noted: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.” And the only way to solve the monumental problems at the Los Angeles Veterans Home is to make monumental changes with new thinking.

This can only be accomplished with a thorough house cleaning by Secretary Shinseki through the termination of those who created this dirty mess and multitude of problems in the first place.
Major House Cleaning Needed at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home

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