Local stories

Clinton, Trump fail to impress LA vets in forum

Sep 8, 2016
Josue Guerrero served as a Marine mortarman and saw combat in Iraq. After the "Commander in Chief Forum" showcasing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Mr. Guerrero said he's still open to hearing from a third-party candidate.
John Ismay/KPCC

Josue Guerrero served as a Marine mortarman and saw combat in Iraq. After the "Commander in Chief Forum" showcasing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Mr. Guerrero said he's still open to hearing from a third-party candidate. John Ismay/KPCC

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's appearance on a nationally televised forum on national security and veterans' issues Wednesday night left some military veterans in Los Angeles wishing they could hear more from third-party candidates.

Three warships are arriving at the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday and Thursday for L.A.'s first-ever "Fleet Week." Besides the usual tours, Navy officials will be talking with local officials about how the Third Fleet might help Los Angeles in the case of a huge natural disaster.

"The Navy could respond with an amphibious ship," Navy Commander Ryan Perry tells KPCC. "With an amphibious ship you have hospital beds, medical facilities. You have the ability to make water and transport it to an affected area."

Veterans of the Korean War stand on the red carpet outside American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood. They gathered for the first screening in North America of the new movie 'Operation Chromite.'
John Ismay / American Homefront

In Hollywood, the Korean War is almost forgotten.  While U.S. movie studios have turned out hundreds of films about World War II and several dozen about Vietnam, movies about Korea are far less common.

Athena (played by Joanna Bateman) is the goddess of war, and she drives Ajax to madness solely for her own amusement. The play "Ajax In Iraq" runs at the Greenway Court Theater through August 14th.
John Ismay/KPCC

Athena (played by Joanna Bateman) is the goddess of war, and she drives Ajax to madness solely for her own amusement. The play "Ajax In Iraq" runs at the Greenway Court Theater through August 14th. John Ismay/KPCC

For two and a half millennia, the Greek tragedy of “Ajax” has endured as one of the best depictions of war and the psychological damage it can inflict on combatants. And at the Greenway Court Theater in Hollywood, the Ajax story is being reborn.

LA VA Wait Times Lag National Average

Jul 18, 2016

In Los Angeles, at the biggest veterans hospital in the country, former service members are waiting too long to get seen for care—something the hospital's new director, Ann Brown, says it's her top priority to fix. 

Brown said her hospital's wait times lag the national average. Veterans in L.A. wait about six days to see a primary care doctor and eight days for a specialist. The national average is about five days for primary care and six for specialists. For mental health care appointments, L.A. wait times lag the nation by 30 percent. 

Local Veterans Affairs officials met with reporters this week to talk about some of the steps they're taking to improve accessibility and quality of care for veterans. 

One of the Seattle VA's new initiatives is to help veterans deal with chronic pain -- a problem that can often lead to opiate dependence and addiction. Another critical initiative addresses the 11 percent growth in VA Puget Sound's patient load. 


Pentagon ends ban on transgender troops

Jun 30, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Thursday announced an end to the ban on openly transgender people serving in the military. 

The policy takes effect immediately.

Carter said the new policy recognizes that there are already transgender troops.

"The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now: the finest fighting force the world has ever known," he said.

This September the University of Southern California will open a new mental health care clinic aimed at filling gaps in services for military veterans and their families. 

The clinic, part of a $275 million grant from billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, is expected to open in September as one of 25 such sites planned nationwide. 

The network's director, Anthony Hassan, said the aim is to treat people who fall through the cracks of the Veterans Administration's care. 

Dozens of women who take care of military veteran spouses got to take a break Saturday morning at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered day care, arts and crafts, mindfulness training, and free massages.
KPCC/John Ismay

Dozens of women who take care of military veteran spouses got to take a break Saturday morning at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered day care, arts and crafts, mindfulness training, and free massages. KPCC/John Ismay

For many women in Los Angeles, taking care of a disabled spouse is a full-time job.

The wait times for VA primary care patients in the Fayetteville area had been among the longest in the country, but have fallen sharply in recent months. VA officials say that a big reason is the massive outpatient health care center they opened in November.

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