By Robert L. Rosebrock
LOS ANGELES – On the heels of U.S. District Judge S. James Otero’s explicit Summary Judgment entered against the Los Angeles VA for illegal real estate dealings, another major blow was delivered in a letter to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki from U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, whose 33rd District includes this largest VA in the nation.
In his letter to the Secretary, the 19-term (38 years) Congressman was direct and precise in his urging the VA to withdraw any appeal of the Judgment:
“Judge Otero’s decision was a stern rebuke of the VA’s interpretation of the “clear and unambiguous” language of the law. I believe the most constructive path the VA could take now would be to decline to spend resources on an appeal of the decision. I urge the VA instead to accept the decision as an opportunity to work to strengthen the programs that directly serve the needs of veterans on the West LA VA campus.”
Veterans are very appreciative of this directive which essentially says “it’s over” for the VA and it’s free-wheeling illegal land deals with non-Veteran special interests that have forced 20,000 disabled and disadvantaged Veterans to live in back-alley squalor instead of on these sacred grounds that were permanently deeded in their behalf 125 years ago, as a National Veterans Home.
For more than 5 ½ years, the Old Veterans Guard (OVG) has been steadfastly battling the VA over this misuse of Veterans property including the abuse of disabled homeless Veterans. Consequently, the recent ACLU lawsuit victory was very encouraging that justice is on the way.
Congressman Waxman’s letter is virtually the “nail in the coffin” that will replace unlawful activity at the VA with moral responsibility. Anything less will not be tolerated by America’s Veterans.
If Secretary Shinseki honors the request, it will ensure the eviction of all illegal occupiers and begin the long-sought restoration of the National Veterans Home.
On the other hand, if Secretary Shinseki ignores the request and his Department appeals the Judge’s ruling, President Obama can expect serious fallout in the 2014 elections as America’s citizenry will not tolerate a public park for the wealthy, a major baseball stadium for UCLA, a state-of-the-art athletic complex with tennis courts and swimming pools for a wealthy private school, a soccer field for wealthy youth organization, Sodexo-Marriott Luxury Hotel laundry facilities, and other egregious misappropriation of federal property, instead of building seriously needed supportive housing for disabled and destitute Veterans.
Veterans Are Clear and Unambiguous
After years of fighting the VA, fellow members of the OVG are very adamant in their demands on our public servants who are entrusted to protect Veterans land and provide the very best of care for our disabled Veterans.
Commander Hernandez expresses the general consensus amongst Veterans that the public park, private school athletic field, UCLA baseball stadium, youth soccer field, etc., all need to contact the nearby Brentwood Country Club with its massive open space and see how charitable and generous they will be with their land since some of their members were instrumental in the finagling of Veterans property.
Larry Kegel, a Vietnam War-era Veteran who normally holds a “Waxman Has Failed Our Veterans” sign at OVG Sunday Rallies, offered this: “Congressman Waxman’s letter will be a true test to see if he really walks his talk and will actually work with us. Or will it be politics as usual and he returns to supporting special interest groups over Veterans? He’s up for re-election and he almost got beat this last time so he’d better walk straight, otherwise this will be his last term.”
David Bischoff, a decorated Vietnam War Combat Veteran and OVG member also voices concerns about Congressman Waxman staying true to his word. “For the past 5 ½ years, Congressman Waxman has never once supported our cause. Now that the Court has ruled in our favor, it’s convenient for him to declare a ‘triumph.’ Hopefully he has finally seen the light and will honestly work with us instead of against us. The same goes for Secretary Shinseki. It’s time for public officials to serve Veterans and not wealthy special interest groups.”
Dr. Robert Kamansky, a Vietnam War-era Veteran Dentist and loyal member of the OVG has doubts that Congressman Waxman will hold Secretary Shinseki accountable. “For some reason, Congressman Waxman just doesn’t seem sincere when it comes to protecting Veterans land. He’s always saying this land belongs to Veterans but then he endorses a public park to be built on this same land. Until he removes his name from Veterans Park Conservancy’s list of ‘Government Supporters,’ he cannot be considered serious and sincere.”
Larry Braezaele, Chairman of the National Veterans Coalition often drives 100 miles round trip to support the OVG Sunday Rallies, issued a strong notice to Congressman Waxman and Secretary Shinseki: “Stop waging war with our Veterans … they’ve had enough war. Let Veterans be welcomed at their National Home to rest and heal in peace and quiet. You need to start giving to them and stop taking away from them. Your war against Veterans and their land is over … so sayeth Judge Otero.”
Hank Papeika, an 85-year old World War II and Korean War Veteran and OVG member, delivered a no-nonsense message: “A big price has been paid for this country’s freedom and you don’t honor those who paid the price by taking away their land for a public park, and then say it’s in their honor. Hogwash! Get outta here!”
It’s very clear and unambiguous that Veterans are placing a lot of expectations on Congressman Henry Waxman to staunchly enforce his letter to Secretary Shinseki, and to make major changes on behalf of Veterans.
Equally important, fellow Veterans want the Congressman to send a letter to President Obama requesting that his Department of Justice inform Secretary Shinseki that they will not represent the VA in any appeal to Judge Otero’s ruling — under any circumstances.
In sum, if General Shinseki still wants to wage war and appeal his Department’s indisputable defeat, then he can pay for his own legal defense.
God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution!
Rep. Waxman Calls on Sec. Shinseki to Not Appeal Valentini v. Shinseki Court Decision >>>
U.S. Army, 1965-67, Schofield Barracks, Hqs., U.S Army, Hawaii. Director, The Veterans Revolution, Captain, the Old Veterans Guard, and Director, We the Veterans.