Annual ‘blockbuster’ event provides additional resources to Los Angeles-area Veterans


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Being so close to Hollywood has its perks.  Employees from Paramount Pictures and parent company Viacom volunteered their afternoon to serve and support VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System Veterans during Viacommunity Day on April 28.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, live music and promotional t-shirts were some of the items doled out to Veterans at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.

“We appreciate the opportunity to give back to the Veteran community,” said Christina Derenthal, a representative from Paramount Pictures’ government and community relations department.  “This is my tenth year working on Viacommunity Day, and the VA has been one of the most impactful sites for me.  It’s great to be here and talk with these folks who have given so much to our country, see how they’re doing and say thank you.”    

Viacommunity Day is a company-wide effort organizing thousands of volunteers each year to participate in volunteer activities across the globe. Participants volunteer at local schools, animal shelters, LA-based nonprofit organizations and beautification efforts.Image of Veterans receiving free haitcuts.

“We are so glad to work with our community partners to honor and celebrate our Veterans,” said Carrie Brandlin, recreational specialist for VA’s LA voluntary service.  “Veterans and their families can relax and take advantage of free services while enjoying great food and entertainment.”

Other community partners included El Segundo Cares, a local non-profit that collects gently used shoes, hats, shirts, pants, and shorts along with toiletries and distributes them to Veterans. Founder Jan Cruikshank has partnered with VAGLAHS for five years.

Students from LA Barber College honored Veterans with free haircuts and beard trims. The mini barbershop served trims to approximately 150 Veterans who waited patiently for their new hairdo.

According to Blanca Polanco, lead instructor at LA Barber College, the service is a win-win for both Veterans and students.

“We come to serve the VA here for free.  Sometimes they waited too long to get a haircut because some cannot afford it and that’s why the Veterans are happy to get it done.  We never get paid and we are glad to have this place to serve them for free because we appreciate what they have done for us.  All the students are happy to come because they get a lot of experience too.”

More than 350 Veterans and family members attended the annual event.  This year marks Viacommunity Day’s third trip to the LA campus to serve Veterans.


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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.

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