California Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, and his wife, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, are greeted by veteran Anthony Wimberly, left, in his apartment in a newly renovated building used to house veterans on the campus of the Veterans Affairs of Greater Los Angeles on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom and first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom visited the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus, touring a new supportive housing site there.
The visit on Friday afternoon, May 26, was intended to tout what the governor’s press office described in a news release as “historic investments made in behavioral health and housing resources for veterans.”
California is home to 1.6 million veterans, the most in the nation, according to Newsom’s office. There were nearly 4,000 veterans who were tallied in LA County in 2022, according to that year’s point-in-time count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Recent state investments have led to CalVet expanding programs focused on veterans, particularly comprehensive behavioral and mental health services, such as those offered at the West Los Angeles VA campus.
“Our veterans put their lives on the line to serve our country, now we need to serve them in return,” the governor said in a Friday statement. “Too many veterans can’t escape the battlefront, even here on the home front – and because of that, we have lost too many of these heroes to suicide, while many more struggle with other behavioral and physical health concerns.”
Those investiments, according to the release, include:
- The California Veterans Health Initiative, which provided $50 million to improve coordination among various agencies resources to boost education and outreach efforts, while increasing capacity.
- Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, which provided $100 million to help housing projects comply with a requirement to provide on-site services.
- Veterans Support to Self-Reliance Pilot Program, which gave a $25 million boost to provide services intended to help veterans stay in their homes as they age.
- Behavioral Health Services Program, which provided $1.27 million in ongoing funding to help counties improve mental health services for veterans.
- California Transition Assistance Program , which provides training, both in-person and virtually, to active service members, veterans and their families.
- The hiring of clinical social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists at the eight Veterans Homes of California to ensure adequate behavioral health services throughout the state.
“California is building an accessible network of resources for veterans and their families, while we tackle the deadly stigma around mental health that isolates and endangers so many of our heroes,” Newsom said. “We are home to the nation’s largest population of veterans, who all deserve to be connected, respected, and protected.”