Sent: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 11:50 am
Subject: Re: Veterans Issue "DISTRESS CALL"
Loyal Veterans Dick Breithaupt, who served in both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army during the Korean War era, and Gil Flores, a Vietnam War Veteran who made a career serving in the U.S. Air Force, hold the American Flag upside down to send out a "distress call" by bringing attention to the carnival fundraiser that was taking place behind them while fellow Veterans are supposed to be convalescing and rehabilitating in quietude on these hallowed grounds at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home.
Just when you thought land abuse at the Veterans Home couldn't get any worse, it did. After months of protesting against the giveaway of this sacred land for a public community park, the VA Greater West Los Angeles Healthcare System (VA GWLAHS) made another major blunder with a sweetheart deal for LA's wealthy westsiders to hold a carnival fundraiser on Sunday, June 8th, that required a $1,000 donation per person to attend, which did not go toward Veterans healthcare and rehabilitation.
Moreover, the cost to build this amusement extravaganza that included a gigantic Ferris wheel, water slide and circus tents, had to be in the hundreds of thousand of dollars as it took three days to construct. Consequently, very little, if any, was probably left over for the actual cause, which was Pediatric AIDS.
Like virtually all other events held here on Veterans property, this carnival fundraiser was just another privileged and private gathering for the very wealthy to exploit Veterans land as their own personal playground.
Why can't these kind of events be held at the neighboring Brentwood Country Club, Rivera Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, or the Bel Air Country Club, where many of these $1,000 "donors" are members, instead of on this hallowed land where our fellow Veterans are receiving necessary healthcare and rehabilitation?
On Saturday, June 7th, AIDS Lifecycle also held a major event at the National Home where bicyclists concluded their fundraising ride from San Francisco and were greeted by men demonstrating in women's clothing as "drag queens."
Let there be no misunderstanding; the issue and complaint here is not how people dress and express themselves for whatever cause and/or lifestyle they support. To the contrary, this is about their doing it flagrantly on Veterans hallowed land to advertise and promote their particular cause and lifestyle while Veterans healthcare issues and general funding are being ignored and this hallowed land being abused and misused. This is a major issue and a very serious complaint.
At the AIDS Lifecycle event, the organization offered free T-shirts to the first 300 pre-registrants who showed up to march for the next day's Gay Pride parade and festival in Hollywood. There were advertisements throughout for condoms and an AIDS Information Booth that distributed pamphlets, handbills and posted and displayed placards.
It was obvious that AIDS Lifecycle had a different "permit" than the one issued to Veterans for our 120th Anniversary Celebration on March 2nd, to honor John P. Jones and Arcadia de Baker for their Deed of 1888, which specifically granted this land "to be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers."
While our gathering was quiet and patriotic, the AIDS fundraiser was a raucous promotional event with free latitude to do as they pleased, including some who were drinking beer. At the wholesome Anniversary tribute, Veterans were essentially shut down for "violating" their permit.
According to the VA GWLAHS, the Veterans supposedly violated "Condition 8" of their permit (V.A. regulations prohibit the following: Unauthorized distribution of pamphlets or handbills, solicitation for petitions, posting or display of placards, taking photographs for advertising purposes, and demonstrations, orations or partisan activities.)
Veterans are still not sure if their so-called permit "violation” was when the exercise their Right to Freedom of Expression when they proudly presented the American Flag, the five Flags of our Military Branches, including the POW and MIA Flag, or expressed their Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag.
Or, maybe it was expressing their Right to Freedom of Religion when the Chaplain offered a prayer of gratitude.
Or, their Freedom of Speech when a “Tribute of Thanks” was orated by a Veteran on behalf of the benevolent Land Grantors for the National Home; the reading aloud by several Veterans' supporting the petition to execute the “Declaration of Enforcement” of the Deed of 1888, a Veteran's wife reading aloud "It's the Veterans;" a volunteer singer dedicating a song to Honor America's Veterans.
Or, maybe it was their Right to Freedom of the Press when a printed pamphlet titled, "Creating Opportunities & Inspiring a Better Life" through the "Disabled Veterans Educational Programs," was given out, or the printed flyer titled "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration" that was given to the attendees.
Or, perhaps it was when they simply ate some hot dogs and drank apple cider as part of their wholesome celebration that was a permit "violation.” Then again, it could be that the VA GWLAHS considered our tribute to the Land Grantors to be "partisan" since so "others" want to take this land away and use if for anything but Veterans use, and the politicians and bureaucrats are willing to accommodate these nefarious land heists.
Whatever it was, the overzealous "censor policeman" hired by the VA GWLAHS specifically expressed his unhappiness about "violating" our permit, and said that he was going to report this to his boss.
Now, compare the Veterans small gathering of less than 100 with the AIDS Lifecycle event that had nearly 5,000 attendees and participants. They had a "Closing Ceremonies" that included speeches (orations) on a huge platform with giant TV screens. And their activities that took place that afternoon were certainly partisan. This fundraiser offered "a Moment of silence to reflect on the mission of AIDS Lifecycle and each individual reason for participation." They also had a "Presentation of Dedication Flags."
This AIDS organization coined the term "Prevention on Wheels" and praised it as "POW," the same revered acronym that is used to honor America's "Prisoners of War." For this organization to flagrantly denigrate this time-honored term on the sacred land where Veterans are convalescing and the true POW flag flies reverently below the American flag, is simply unacceptable and unforgivable.
Comparing all that took place at the June 7th AIDS fundraiser to the "120th Anniversary Celebration" on March 2nd to pay tribute for deeding this hallowed land to America's Military Veterans, was as contrast as night and day, victory and surrender.
VA GWLAHS added insult to injury in the way it ignored the activities of the participants and attendees during the AIDS fundraiser and how it monitored every move of Veterans and essentially shut down our event for permit "violation." This is clearly a very serious case of discrimination against America's Veterans that was wrongfully imposed by their own entrusted Department of Veterans Affairs.
From here on out, if there's going to be any fundraisers on Veterans land, it must be 100% for Veterans issues, particularly homeless Veterans. There are approximately 20,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles, yet this is their rightfully "deeded Home." Consequently, there never should be a "homeless Veteran,"
In the neighboring community of Brentwood, luxury homes and homeless Veterans are an embarrassing dichotomy. Equally troubling, for a mere $1,000 per tree, the "leaders" of this wealthy enclave have created an "Adopt a Tree" campaign to protect trees along Brentwood's main street of San Vicente Boulevard. That's so brazen and thoughtless when considering homeless Veterans sleep under the trees and in the bushes, next to their "Home."
All of this egregious conduct must cease as it's time to raise funds for our Veterans' "needs" to ensure that they are getting all the proper healthcare and rehabilitation necessary, instead of kowtowing to the "wants" of the neighboring communities.
Robert L. Rosebrock
Co-Director, We the Veterans