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Homeless Veterans Seek Speedier Resolution

Mediation's not working, they say in asking the judge to make a decision: Send the case against the VA—over how the West L.A. facility should serve vets—to trial or dismiss the suit altogether.

Homeless Veterans Seek Speedier Resolution

The homeless campus say they cannot wait any longer for a settlement.

Mediation talks in a case that seeks to restore and preserve the sprawling West Los Angeles Medical Center as a place solely for veterans—rather than as a place that provides short-term welfare services and that houses commercial operations—are futile, attorneys wrote in court documents filed Wednesday in Los Angeles.

They are asking U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to either rule on the VA's motion to dismiss the suit altogether or to proceed to trial in June.

"Unfortunately, over the past nine months, precious little progress has been
made toward resolving this litigation and obtaining the relief plaintiffs so desperately need."

Filed in conjunction with the motion are declarations from several homeless veterans, among them Leslie Richardson, a Los Angeles native who as a youth volunteered as a Police Explorer Scout for the Los Angeles Police Department before enlisting in the Army in 1973. He served seven years as a clerk and later as a military police officer.

"I grew up in South Central Los Angeles at the time that some of the most notorious Crip members lived in the area... because of all the violence around I did not spend my weekends at home," Richardson wrote. "I looked up to the police officers and wanted to be one when I grew up. I thought I could make a positive change in my niehgborhood."

Now a recovering alcoholic who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he attributes to time spent undercover in Germany, Richardson bounces from psychiatric wards to sober living houses to temporary government-assisted housing.

"All the moving around has interfered with my treatment," he wrote in his declaration. "I have been institutionalized, and it kept me with a high level of anxiety I fear being put out on the streets.... I have no idea where I will go next."

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and several other private attorneys, including Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, in June 2011 on behalf of four homeless veterans,

The VA has argued that the plaintiffs do not have the right to override its authority to determine how veterans' health benefits will  be provided on the 387-acre property that was donated to it in 1888. 

"Our chronically homeless veterans suffer irreparable harm every day we do not resolve this case. At the very least, they deserve an opportunity to have their claims heard and resolved at the earliest possible date," their attorneys wrote Wednesday.

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