As part of the National Salute to Veteran Patients celebrations held each year in February, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, in partnership with National Veteran Foundation, provided new clothes including slacks, pants, dress shirts, sweaters, jackets, dresses, skirts and cardigans to local Veterans at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.
“I’m here today to get clothing and enjoy life,” said VA Domiciliary resident Paul Townsend. “It’s wonderful; it’s the best thing to ever happen to the Vets.”
Townsend, a 13-year U.S. Army Veteran, weathered heavy rain to receive new clothes including slacks and shirts. Nearly 500 VAGLAHS patients and local Veterans took advantage of the clothing giveaway.
“The National Veterans Foundation’s work is about helping Veterans transition from military to civilian life,” said Bill Morgan, development director for NVF. “New, high-quality clothing like the clothes we gave out on Friday could provide a Veteran with a new job interview outfit, or warm clothing during these wet winter months that they may not have been able to afford in their current circumstances.”
Retailer Lands’ End, donated 17,000 pieces of new apparel worth in excess of $250,000 to NVF to ensure the items would get in the hands of Veterans in-need. NVF reached out to VA’s Los Angeles Community Care Homeless Outreach team to help distribute the goods.
As one outreach staff member explained, a set of new clothes does more for Veterans than one might expect.
“Veterans who are homeless or who experience homelessness, they get a sense of empowerment,” said Juma Egler, VA Community Outreach homeless specialist. “They are inspired to keep hope alive, for a miracle to take place.”
Michiko Riley is a public affairs specialist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. She is also an Air Force reservist serving in Public Affairs for U.S. Forces Japan.