On Saturday, Nov. 11, the San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade brought hundreds of spectators out to honor those who have served in the armed forces. During opening remarks, government officials spoke about how it is now our turn to serve the veterans who put their lives on the line for this country.
“I’m proud to say that recently a delegation of members of the council went to Washington, D.C. to fight on behalf of veterans, because no veteran, no one who has ever fought on behalf of our nation, should be left to live and die on the streets of our country,” said Mayor Karen Bass.
Data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that there were more than 10,000 homeless veterans in California in 2022, constituting about one-third of all homeless veterans in the United States.
“One of the reasons that has contributed to veterans being homeless is because if they use veterans benefits, sometimes it disqualifies them from housing. … To me, anyone who has fought on behalf of our country, just as they deserve medical benefits, they absolutely deserve housing,” said Bass.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a Transitional Housing Program (THP) that provides over 1,000 beds across the greater Los Angeles area for veterans in need of temporary shelter while seeking permanent housing.
Veterans can call the number (310) 268-3350 Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for temporary housing referrals.
In October, the VA ended its Partial Claim Payment program that allowed homeowners to skip mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is putting thousands of veterans at risk of foreclosure. The VA is working on a replacement program, but it could arrive too late for many already in the foreclosure process.
There is also permanent supportive housing available in the San Fernando Valley, such as the Summit View Apartments that opened in July. The Sylmar apartments hosts 49 units for homeless and disabled veterans, and occupants are able to access onsite services including comprehensive case management, connections to health care services, education and employment resources and life skills training.
“I am proud that we are not turning our backs on veterans that have experienced homelessness,” said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. “This is the work of your city. This is the work of your community. And we collectively say yes, because we will not leave a soldier behind here in the San Fernando Valley.”
Veteran populations often require high levels of medical services, due to ailments and injuries developed in combat. A 2023 report by the Department of Labor found that 27% of all veterans have a service-connected disability.
A high number of veterans also suffer from mental health issues, with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression being the most common. The 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report from the VA concluded that suicide was the 13th leading cause of death among veterans in 2020, and the second leading cause of death among veterans under the age of 45.
For veterans struggling with their mental health, the VA has a Veteran Crisis Line that is open 24/7 and can be reached by dialing 988 and pressing 1 or texting 838255.
Veterans can also go to or call any VA medical center, or they can dial (877) 222-8387 to reach the VA health benefits hotline.
As time has gone on, the VA has expanded to allow for more veterans to receive health care and benefits. The PACT Act, passed in 2022, allows veterans who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances to receive health care and benefits.
“If you have not utilized your benefits, or maybe you were denied years before and you don’t think that you qualify now, things have changed. It’s a new day at the VA,” said Zaneta Adams, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs.
The Sepulveda VA Medical Center in North Hills provides primary care and specialty health services. This includes dental, mental health care, women’s health, homeless veteran care, nutrition and dietary care and returning service member care.
The North Hills Center can be reached at (818) 891-7711, while the mental health line can be accessed through extension 31139.
Charles Greene, veteran and 2022 Grand Marshall of the San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade is the site manager of the Sepulveda VA Ambulatory Care Center.
“It is vital for these services to be provided for the veterans of the SFV that have served this great nation,” Greene said in a statement to the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol. “Veterans must have great access [to] great health services for the injuries that have occurred while in the military.”
For veteran housing resources, go to https://housing.lacounty.gov/Veterans.html. To find local, state, national and federal veteran resources, visit: https://housing.lacounty.gov/press/articles/VeteransResources.html. For telephone numbers of veteran services at the local, state and national level,visit: https://www.seniorservicessfv.org/veteran-services/.