Saturday, January 10, 2009

Veterans & Groups, Rally Against VA land Grab...

Ed Note: As the realities of the election and the New Year sets in, folks in the "movement" are all meeting and discussing the topic of the day; "What Now?" The answer seems pretty clear to me; keep on keepin' on! Only, first, review your organizational or personal history, and see how effective we have been in real world thinking, and focus on what worked for us. You have to use critical thinking analysis...very different than the old criticism and self-criticism sessions of the Maoist and Marxist political dogma doctrines of the '60s and '70s. And certainly different than political correct thinking model of the mid '80s that many still cling to, thereby impairing their effectiveness. This ain't the past, this is the 21st century, and we need to get lean and mean, and resourceful vs outraged, directionless, and divisively ineffective.
This open letter came in an e-mail from a VVAW associate of mine, Steve Crandall, who is calling for action from Veterans and their supporters, and who are actively coalescing around a Veterans' focus issue in a meaningful way. This, as opposed to trying to be all things to all issues and thereby diluting their message, and losing focus on why you are in the fight, in the first place. totally supports this particular initiative because it is focused and has strategic, tactical, and political direction. The stuff that strong coalitions are made of. hopes that you will join us with your active support for Veterans United For Truth on this initiative, who's outcome extends way beyond Veterans issues and Brentwood, Ca. It is an issue of Veterans' Congressionally mandated Rights.WH
Slippery Slope Agreement Leads to Veteran’s Land Grab
120 years ago, on 3 March 1888, a plot of land was irrevocably deeded by John P. Jones and Arcadia de Baker to the United States for the “sole purpose of providing veterans a place to heal from war”. That property is now called the “VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System” and is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In September 2007 the local VA entered into a “Shared Property” agreement with an organized group of Brentwood and Beverly Hills residents calling themselves the “Veterans Park Conservancy” to use 16+ acres of that land, rent-free, as a public park. The agreement runs for 20 years with an option for 10 more. The $6M - $7M worth of improvements are to be paid for through donations collected by the Conservancy.
It is clear that this amount of money represents the cost for permanent structures and not just planting trees on the property. Also prior to entering into the agreement the VA was pressured into spending $1M+ on a new cast iron fence to remove what the Conservancy termed an “eyesore” to this wealthy community. To understand how transparent, the Conservancy’s motives are, they advertised the proposed park by placing a sign “Beauty, Honor, Country”, thus trivializing the US Military Academy’s motto “Duty, Honor, Country”. Their focus on “Beauty” rather than “Duty” explains their concern clearly. They do not understand the sacrifices veterans and their families have endured to protect our country.

The quest to turn the veteran’s land into a public park does not rest solely with the Conservancy group. They are backed by Congresspersons who would rather put this land in the hands of their wealthy constituents than honor the original deed agreement and provide the veterans that fought for this country a protected place to heal from the war. The Conservancy is promoting their project by saying that the land would be used “for the enjoyment and education of the entire community” as if the veterans would share equally in the use of the land. Once this land becomes “public property” the veterans will never see it again because reversing a “public agreement” will be next to impossible.

Veterans groups who have been at odds with each other for over forty years regarding the Vietnam War and more recently over the War in Iraq have joined forces to oppose this give-away. We must all stand together to protect this land on behalf of all veterans and not let this land be stolen.

The “slippery slope” land grab by the Conservancy is not a Democratic or Republican fight. It is also not a local fight here in Los Angeles; this is a national fight for veteran’s rights. Public opinion counts the most, so write your Congressmen and Senators to let them know you oppose the VA’s actions. Also contact as many people as you can, veterans or not, and ask them to email Veterans United for Truth at and let them know you also oppose Brentwood’s encroachment on this land. Join us and support all veterans!

Steve Crandall, President
CA Central Coast Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War