After many years and collaborations between the campus Veterans Resource Center (VRC), Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS), and congresswoman Judy Chu, Pasadena City College (PCC) will be bringing the first veterans primary care clinic to the campus.
Chu (D-Monterey Park) has expressed the need for a new VA primary care clinic for years. During the 2014 and 2015 Veteran’s Day celebration, Chu reminded people about the ongoing discussion around the clinic. By working closely together, the group is proud to be finally bringing the first clinic of its kind to the San Gabriel Valley (SGV).
According to Chu’s website, this would be the first time the VA has agreed to partner with a community college to locate a health center for veterans on campus.
The exact location for the new facility has not been set in stone, but there are tentative plans to have it placed in the upper quarter of Lot 3.
“The Veterans Resource Center would relocate next to the clinic to create ‘Veterans Village’,” said Patricia D’Orange Martin, the coordinator for the VRC. “Much like the Science Village, it’s important to have the clinic and Veterans Resource Center next to each other.”
As it stands today, all veterans in the Los Angeles area, including the SGV, are limited to clinics in the downtown or Westwood area. The three current locations are as close as 13 miles to as far as 27 miles away from the SGV, where, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times, is home to more than 30,000 veterans.
PCC and its veteran’s center has received praise in the past for being one of the nation’s leading community colleges serving veterans. Martin has received accolades for her work within the center for bringing attention to the needs of veterans on and off campus.
“This is a very forward thinking project,” Martin said. “The biggest hurdles has been to develop a protocol for the project.”
Martin explained that once a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is reached between the lawyers for the VA and PCC, the Board of Trustees will be left to vote on the MOU.
The level of support for the project became clear once the Board of Trustees gave the fundraising committee the green light to fundraise for this project last year.
“There has been such an overwhelming support from the community,” Martin said. “They were able to raise the $300,000 just by word of mouth.”
The $300,000 is being used to open the center, which will provide a variety of services that the current VRC and student health center cannot adequately facilitate.
“Our current student health services are not equipped to work with the multitude of health issues that many veterans have,” Martin said. “Many of their health issues are derived from their deployment not only in war zones but emergency zones like Katrina.”
Often forgotten are the veterans who suffer physical and mental health issues in non-war zones when exposed to toxins or stressful situations.
“Our veterans are sent all over the world under harsh conditions,” Martin said. “Not just war.”
The biggest improvement sought with the new clinic will be to cut down on appointment wait time, which has gained national attention and notoriety.
“Veterans can wait up from eight to 12 months for an appointment,” Martin said. This has had a particular affect on students as “it can be at a time where they may have a final or critical class.”