UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald today (Jan. 28) announced a stronger academic affiliation to benefit our nation’s veterans as UCLA commits to annually providing $1.15 million in support of new programs and services, approximately $200,000 of in-kind contributions and $300,000 a year in fair-market rent for continued use of Jackie Robinson Stadium. New and expanded services will include mental health, family support, legal advocacy and recreation services.
“Beyond research and teaching, UCLA’s other core mission is service and I can think of no better way to serve our community than through an even stronger partnership with the VA,” Chancellor Block said. “Secretary McDonald’s commitment to transform the West Los Angeles campus into a truly veteran-centric place that modernizes programs and offers greater opportunities has inspired UCLA to explore new ways to work with the VA. We’re confident that together we will make a bigger difference in veterans’ lives than either of us would alone.”
The new framework will also allow for continued use of Jackie Robinson Stadium by UCLA’s baseball team for a term of 10 years at an annual rent of $300,000. The stadium will be used, along with a new park area adjacent to the Veteran’s Garden, as a site for new recreational, leisure and therapeutic activities for veterans and their families.
New initiatives include:
• $750,000 annually to design and implement a UCLA-VA Family Resource & Well-Being Center and a Mental Health and Addictions Center for Excellence. The Family Resource & Well-Being Center will be based on the work of Patricia Lester, the Jane and Marc Nathanson Family Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and a nationally recognized expert in family resilience and trauma; it is intended to become a national model for veteran families and women veterans, offering a one- stop portal for access to specialized family resilience, social work, legal, education, parenting skills and other services. The primary focus of the Center for Excellence’s clinical, research, and educational function will be to address the needs of homeless, disadvantaged veterans who present with co-occurring addictions, mental health and medical complications.
• $400,000 annually to expand and relocate the UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic to provide enhanced legal services to veterans on the WLA VA campus, emphasizing the benefits of advocacy and the legal needs of homeless veterans.
• UCLA will provide $2 million over 10 years of in-kind services for recreation, expertise and mentorship, and establishment of new fellowship programs.
• UCLA will develop and initiate new recreation programs at the stadium, the park and the garden, such as special events and access for veterans, including hosting a veteran baseball team, an adaptive sports training area, and an area to grow produce for personal use and entrepreneurial development.
• UCLA will provide expertise and mentorship in the design and implementation of the Master Plan in areas like landscaping and housing, with the intent of the WLA VA campus developing some of the welcoming, functional and efficient characteristics of UCLA’s campus.
• UCLA will assist in establishing a new, integrated, interdisciplinary fellowship and training program structured around delivering services to homeless veterans, with a particular focus on chronically homeless veterans.
The agreement is conditioned on passage of federal legislation authored by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as well as U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, currently entitled the “Los Angeles Homeless Veterans Leasing Act of 2015.”