The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Brentwood School have been accused of shortchanging veterans by advocates who claim that neither institution is giving veterans the services they were promised under their leases at a VA property in West L.A.
UCLA assured veterans they would receive game tickets, family welfare services and legal clinic services. The Brentwood School, a private K-12 institution, promised to share its 22-acre athletic complex on the West L.A. property with veterans and give 150 scholarships to their children to use at its Brentwood summer day camp.
However, in September 2018, former Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, accused the school of intentionally making it hard for the veterans to use its athletic complex, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It appears that veterans face an onerous process to access the facility,” Knight, who lost to Democrat Katie Hill in the 2018 election, said in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “And the process is designed to discourage veteran usage of the leased land.”
Dan Garcia, Army veteran and Vets Advocacy Chief Executive Office, said the VA had failed to oversee UCLA’s legal clinic.
UCLA’s performance in providing legal services to veterans is highly suspect, Garcia said.
However, the Department of Veterans Affairs and both institutions have said they are upholding their promises to the veterans, including annual rent payments from UCLA of $300,000, $800,000 annual rent payments from Brentwood and $918,000 in non-monetary consideration, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The services provided by Brentwood School and UCLA principally benefit veterans and their families, and service to veterans is the predominant focus of UCLA’s activities on campus,” said VA spokesman Blake K. Anderson.
Advocates claimed that Brentwood left veterans waiting to go through its verification process to use the athletics complex for months.
UCLA’s legal clinic is “poorly advertised”, has limited hours and does not take walk-in clients, Garcia said.
According to a 2018 UCLA report, almost half of the total 267 cases that the clinic handled were ended by referrals to other legal groups.
Ricardo Vazquez, a spokesman for UCLA, said critics misinterpreted the mission of the legal clinic, which is to assist law students during a semester-long course of legal assistance for veterans.
“The clinic has already helped hundreds of veterans, and developed a guide for referring veterans to other agencies for aid that falls beyond its scope or capacity,” Vazquez said.