With strong bipartisan votes of support, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have approved an agreement between UCLA and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that creates a stronger academic affiliation between the university and the VA to benefit veterans.
UCLA applauded the passage of the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, which authorizes the VA to implement the Master Plan for the West L.A. VA campus. These votes recognize the agreement UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced in January.
“First, I want to thank our extraordinary congressional leaders, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressmen Ted Lieu and Jeff Miller, whose strong support and leadership led to its successful passage,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “It is fitting that this legislation was passed today, when thousands of UCLA’s entering freshmen are participating in our annual Volunteer Day, launching their college careers by serving throughout Los Angeles at schools, parks and the VA. Beyond research and teaching, I can think of no better way to serve our community than through an even stronger partnership with the VA.”
Under the terms of the agreement, UCLA has agreed to provide $1.15 million annually in support of new programs and services, approximately $200,000 of in-kind contributions and $300,000 a year in fair-market rent for the continued use of Jackie Robinson Stadium.
New and expanded services will include mental health, family support, legal advocacy and recreation services. The stadium, along with a new park area adjacent to the Veterans’ Garden, will be used as a site for new recreational, leisure and therapeutic activities for veterans and their families.
“Secretary McDonald’s commitment to transform the West Los Angeles campus has inspired UCLA to explore new ways to serve veterans, and we’re confident that together we will make a bigger difference in veterans’ lives than either of us would alone,” Block said.
New initiatives include:
• $750,000 annually to design and implement a UCLA–VA Family Resource and Well-Being Center and a Mental Health and Addictions Center for Excellence.
• $400,000 annually to expand and relocate the UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic to provide enhanced legal services to veterans on the West Los Angeles VA campus.
• $2 million worth of in-kind services over 10 years for recreation, expertise and mentorship, and the establishment of new fellowship programs.
• New recreation programs at the stadium, park and garden, such as special events and access for veterans, including hosting a veterans baseball team, an adaptive sports training area and an area to grow produce for personal use and entrepreneurial development.
• Expertise and mentorship in the design and implementation of the master plan in areas such as landscaping and housing, to help the West Los Angeles VA campus develop some of the welcoming, functional and efficient characteristics of UCLA’s campus.
• Assistance in establishing an integrated, interdisciplinary fellowship and training program structured around delivering services to homeless veterans, with a particular focus on chronically homeless veterans.
The legislation now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature into law.