UCLA will hold its annual Veterans Day ceremony the morning of Nov. 8, recognizing the work of veterans on campus, in the community and around the world.
After UCLA Chancellor Gene Block joins veterans and others speaking at the ceremony, more than a dozen programs and organizations from on and off campus will participate in a resource fair to help make veterans aware of the university and community resources available to them. Among them will be the UCLA Veteran Resource Center, which provides students affiliated with the military with guidance on how to use their military educational benefits, links to other campus resources, mentoring from other veterans and more. The resource fair will also include representatives from units like financial aid and the Academic Advancement Program for students, Staff Assembly and Campus Human Resources for staff, and off-campus groups like the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office.
UCLA is committed to serving veterans through a wide range of programs, and U.S. News and World Report has ranked UCLA as the best public college for veterans for three consecutive years, in part because of offerings like the campus’s Veteran Resource Center. UCLA has served veterans for more than 70 years since becoming the medical affiliate for the neighboring Veterans Affairs campus, providing UCLA faculty and residents to treat more than 3,000 VA patients annually. UCLA Health also provides reconstructive surgery and mental health support to severely wounded soldiers through the nationally renowned Operation Mend program.
This year’s Veterans Day ceremony takes place during UCLA’s Centennial. In addition to Block, other speakers at the Veterans Day Ceremony include Thomas Ruck, the director of the Los Angeles National Cemetery, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Kwon, professor and chair of UCLA Military Science. Joining them are two veterans. Chris Silva, who served in nine countries as a major in the U.S. Army, is now manager of the UCLA Behavioral Intervention Team, which helps ensure a safe campus work environment. Veteran Christopher Jones is a Pat Tillman Scholar and a UCLA doctoral candidate in chemistry. Jones researches techniques for quickly analyzing organic molecules and biological compounds, and aims to develop technology that will help soldiers rapidly detect life-threatening toxins in the field.
On the VA campus, UCLA runs the UCLA/VA Veteran Family Wellness Center, which has provided resilience and wellness services to more than 10,000 veterans and their families. The UCLA School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic is also based in part on the VA campus, and has served hundreds of veterans as part of its mission to train law students in veteran-related cases while providing free legal representation to underserved veterans. Both the center and the clinic were developed in 2016 as part of the university’s 10-year, $16.5 million expanded partner with the Veterans Affairs Grater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
UCLA’s commitment includes:
- $500,000 annually for the UCLA VA Veteran Family Wellness Center
- $400,000 annually for the UCLA Veterans Legal Clinic
- $300,000 annually in fair-market rent for the baseball stadium, with an annual inflation adjustment
- $250,000 annually committed to the ongoing development and activities of the VA UCLA Center of Excellence for Resilience & Recovery to address the linked problems of homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse
- $200,000 annually in in-kind commitments and monetary support for additional programs and activities
In addition, thousands of veterans have been served in dozens of other formal and informal UCLA programs, including free UCLA Recreation classes at the VA; monthly garden clean-ups and barbecues at the Veterans Garden with UCLA’s student veterans; free tickets, parking and concessions at all UCLA Baseball home games; special events at the baseball stadium including barbecues, batting clinics and meetings with coaches and players; free summer sport camps at the stadium and UCLA campus for children and grandchildren of veterans; regular UCLA volunteer projects at the VA; golf clinics and tournaments for veterans; and many other off-site programs available to veterans such as Military Appreciation Sporting Events, Operation Mend, the Veteran Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, the Operation Smile dental clinic, the Nathanson Center’s Warrior Care program, and job fairs.