As the nation’s largest Veterans Day parade kicked off in New York City on Saturday morning, Nov. 11, among the 20,000 participants was a contigent of about a hundred people representing Operation Mend, the partnership between UCLA Health and the U.S. military dedicated to healing physical and psychological wounds of war.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block marching with UCLA Operation Mend in the New York City Veterans Day Parade
Carol Lemus/UCLA Health
Chancellor Block and other members of the Operation Mend contingent in New York City.

Among the marchers making their way up Fifth Avenue, cheered on by an estimated crowd estimated of 400,000, were UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, leaders from UCLA Health and Operation Mend health care professionals, patients and their families, and suppporters.

The innovative program, launched in 2007, brought together Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other stakeholders to provide medical, surgical and psychological treatment at no cost to post-9/11 veterans and service members injured in the line of duty.

Smiling woman with a crown reading ‘Land of the free because of the brave’ at New York City Veterans Day parade
Anna Watts/UCLA Operation Mend
Celebrating with Operation Mend in New York City.

To date, Operation Mend has been funded by more than 5,000 donors who have contributed approximately $75 million.

Earlier in the week, on Thursday, Nov. 9, red roses, white hypericum and blue hydrangeas covered the tables at the James West Alumni Center as the campus honored those who’ve served with a celebratory luncheon.

Six UCLA military service members in fatigues seated at luncheon table
David Esquivel/UCLA
Thursday’s luncheon at UCLA’s James West Alumni Center.

UCLA’s Veteran Resource Center hosted the event for military students and veterans, staff and alumni.

Veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam came from as far away as Michigan, joining Chancellor Block and Tony De Francesco, executive director of veterans affairs relations and programs for UCLA.

Alumna and her father at campus Veterans Day luncheon; she holds a flower arrangement as he give the thumbs-up.
David Esquivel/UCLA
A UCLA alumna and her veteran father, who came from Michigan for the luncheon celebration.

And on Nov. 11, at the Rose Bowl, where the Bruins took on Arizona State University, the Veterans Resource Center hosted a tailgate event for 360 student veterans, alumni and friends. About 30 veterans were honored in an on-field tribute during the first half of the game.

Group of about 30 UCLA veterans on the field at the Rose Bowl
Kiran Mistry
UCLA veterans honored on the field at the Rose Bowl during the UCLA–Arizona State University game.