What is Veterans Day? To the average citizen, it's a one-day-a-year, guilt-free tribute to say thanks to those who served and defended our nation's freedom and independence.
Correspondingly, we have parades featuring high school bands with teenagers who are too young to serve and open convertibles glorifying politicians who never served.
Then we gather for barbeques with laughter and fun, all part of the great rewards of living in a free and safe society.
Meanwhile, 20,000 of our Veterans are homeless in Los Angeles, even though the West Los Angeles VA, the largest in the nation, was exclusively deeded 121 years ago "to be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers."
In short, there should never be a homeless Veteran in Los Angeles because this is their rightful "Home."
Nonetheless, there are at least 11 empty buildings at the West Los Angeles VA, and some say that number could be as high as 20. Many of the other buildings are leased to UCLA for research. The two Veterans' theaters have been leased to a Hollywood entertainment group for a "cultural community center."
The Veterans Chapel built 100 years ago as part of the healing process from war, has been closed decades. The Veterans' meditation garden is off-limits to Veterans but available 24/7 to the filming industry.
The VA leased 21 acres of Veterans land to Brentwood School, the most expensive private school in the nation, for tennis courts, swimming pools, etc. Another 16 acres of Veterans' land was given away rent free to a local group of wealthy homeowners for a public community park.
As shameless as all this is, it's always done in the name of "honoring our veterans."
Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the ravages of war have to wait months to get medical care. Double amputee Veterans and others with disabilities have to be driven to the West LA or Long Beach VA's for therapy and treatment.
Unfortunately, Veterans Day has become just another paid holiday for government employees, banks and others.
Meanwhile, every other day of the year our government refuses to honor the promises that "we the people" made to those who pledged their lives for the safety of all others, i.e., you take care of us, and we'll take care of you.
When so many are homeless and without healthcare, a paid holiday, parades and barbeques for the able-bodied is not taking care of our Veterans, it's making a mockery of them.
Instead of setting aside one day to pay tribute to those who defended our citizenry, our citizenry needs to defend our Veterans every day of the year by prosecuting corrupt and dishonorable politicians who have stolen from Veterans and denied them of their "Home" and healthcare services.
Citizens need to volunteer at VA healthcare centers and help those who are homeless get shelter. Then, Veterans will set aside one day each year for a parade and barbeques saluting and honoring you, the grateful citizens.
Robert L. Rosebrock:
Originally published in the San Fernando Sun. Robert L. Rosebrock is Director, The Veterans Revolution Co-Director, We the Veterans Chairman, Veterans Affairs Committee, West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Email the author