UCLA has been serving veterans for nearly 70 years, since the end of World War II.
Whether it's our medical school faculty and residents providing care to 3,000 individual patients a year at the VA, our on-campus supportive services for student veterans, state-of-the-art cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for warriors wounded while serving overseas, or groundbreaking research revolutionizing the way the U.S. military does business, UCLA serves those who serve in myriad ways. Click here for proposed new initiatives with the VA.
Following are some of the important programs, research and initiatives of the campus:
The Veteran Resource Center (VRC) provides caring and personalized support for undergraduate and graduate student veterans in their transition from military service to civilian and college life. We help our student veterans navigate UCLA and provide them with a welcoming space, mentoring from other student veterans, guidance on educational benefits, and tools to succeed academically and personally. We value the skills, assets and experiences veterans bring to the UCLA community and are committed to helping them achieve their goals and aspirations. The VRC also increases campus awareness of student-veteran issues and fosters a sense of belonging, community and well-being for all student veterans on campus.
Chancellor Block launched UCLA's Veterans Initiative in January 2013 to build on- and off-campus awareness about UCLA programs, research projects and services that benefit veterans. The initiative also seeks to boost awareness of and appreciation for the hurdles returning U.S. service members face and the advantages and skills they bring to civilian life. The initiative involves, among other efforts, the relaunch and redesign of its veterans website to appeal to a broad audience and the co-hosting of the half-day forum "How Are Veterans Changing America?" with partner Zócalo Public Square.
Established in 2007 and now part of "Joining Forces," the White House's nationwide effort to galvanize resources to support military families, Operation Mend is a pioneering program that combines the best of the military's resources with the skills of the UCLA Health System for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to healing U.S. military personnel injured and disfigured in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the original goal of Operation Mend was to give returning service members with severe facial injuries access to the Army's best burn center and the nation's best plastic and reconstructive surgeons, the program has since expanded to optimize the healing of body, mind and spirit. In addition to plastic and reconstructive surgery, Operation Mend provides mental health support for wounded warriors and their families, orthopedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs, urology treatment, otolaryngology care, examination and treatment of reproductive issues, repair of airways, and the design of prosthetic ears. Video interview with co-directors.
The Ronald A. Katz Center for Collaborative Military Medicine at UCLA works with the U.S. military to address the unique challenges of healing and caring for the nation's most critically wounded warriors. By serving as a nexus for UCLA's many research projects and services designed to help America's servicemen and servicewomen, the center will help foster collaborations and partnerships both within the university and between UCLA and the military to increase our nation's ability to care for wounded veterans.
The Nathanson Family Resilience Center conducts research and provides an array of programs in resiliency training to military families and veterans facing the challenges of deployment and reintegration. Project FOCUS, offered at military bases across the United States and to families of patients receiving treatment through Operation Mend at UCLA, helps to improve the lives of families facing the loss of a parent or parental depression, medical illness, and wartime exposure. The NFRC team has partnered with Volunteers of America and US Vets to deliver FOCUS prevention services for female veterans and their children in transitional housing facilities in the Long Beach and San Pedro areas. The Nathanson Center also helps families strengthen and renew family relationships in a U.S. National Park setting through the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple Camps. TheWelcome Back Veterans Family Resilience Center integrates research, practice and technology to provide a continuum of family and community interventions — including web-based tools, education and training materials — that can be implemented in a variety of contexts. Video interview with FOCUS director.
The Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans With Disabilities is an innovative program that provides free training in small-business management for disabled veterans through the UCLA Anderson School of Management. It was recognized by the Department of the Army in 2009 as a national "best practice" program providing service to soldiers and their families. UCLA is one of seven sites offering the boot camp.
David Hovda, a professor of neurosurgery and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, was selected by the U.S. Army as the recipient of the 2011 Strength of the Nation Award, presented to an individual who engages in exemplary public service that makes a substantial contribution to the Army's mission. Hovda was cited for his breakthrough research that led to a system for the diagnosis of and recovery from traumatic brain injury on the battlefield as well as the establishing of the National Intrepid Center for Excellence, a national institute dedicated to advancing our nation’s understanding about the invisible wounds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His visionary efforts have helped hundreds of military men and women at war receive state-of-the-art treatment for mild traumatic brain injury caused mainly by improvised explosive devices. If not treated, these injuries can lead to brain damage and mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Videointerview with Dr. Hovda.
At UCLA's CASIT, doctors and researchers are pioneering a new world of robotic and sensing technologies that will dramatically improve medical care for both military members and civilians. Among the center's innovations is a revolutionary prosthetic-leg "touch feedback" system in which sensors placed in the prosthetic transmit real-time messages to the body and brain about balance and gait, allowing veterans and others to adapt far more quickly, efficiently and safely to their new limbs.Video
The UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS) is the coordinating center for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The NCCTS is home to the NCTSN Military Families Program which provides education and training on a variety of military and veteran-related behavioral health issues. The NCCTS has partnered with leadership from the VA and Department of Defense to create a large number of educational webinars, materials and podcasts. These training materials are freely available on the NCTSN Learning Center in the Military Families section (http://learn.NCTSN.org). A wide variety of additional resources, including military family friendly guides, are also available in the NCTSN Military Families Knowledge Bank.
Board-certified physician nutrition specialist Dr. Zhaoping Li discovered that veterans tended to struggle with weight problems more than the general public. Believing that physical and mental disabilities resulting from military service may contribute to difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight, she helped develop the MOVE program at the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System to assist veterans in losing weight, keeping it off and improving their overall health. Video
UCLA Recreation provides a variety of recreation programs for veterans and others with physical or cognitive disabilities. These programs expand access to opportunities that promote physical fitness, health, and wellness, social interaction, increased self-esteem, and greater functional independence.Video
In addition to organizing regular service projects to beautify and improve the Veterans Home of West Los Angeles and sites at the nearby Greater Los Angeles VA, the UCLA Volunteer Center coordinates letter-writing campaigns and care-package delivery to more than 6,000 military service members in hostile regions around the world each year, in partnership with the volunteer-run nonprofit Operation Gratitude. For some soldiers, this is the only contact they have with home. The partnership strives to promote greater awareness of and appreciation for military members' service and sacrifice. The Volunteer Center is hosting a campus-wide challenge to write 3,000+ letters by June 2013. Members of the community can leave their letters in drop boxes found all around campus. Operation Gratitude has sent more than 600,000 care packages since 2003, and UCLA is the first large-scale university the organization has joined with to increase these efforts. Video
Through the Yellow Ribbon Program, UCLA's Anderson School of Management and School of Lawprovide eligible student veterans with tuition waivers or a grant matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program, managed by the VA, was established by the Post–9/11 GI Bill. Both schools offer extensive career services to support student veterans.
The annual UCLA Veterans Day Ceremony honors those in the UCLA family who are members of the military — those who have completed their service, those on active duty, those who are training to serve and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Each year, alumni and other prominent veterans are asked to participate and speak at this important event. Video of 2007 ceremony.
As part of Campus Human Resources’ outreach efforts, partnerships have been established with veterans organizations to discuss employment opportunities for veterans at UCLA and university jobs are regularly advertised on websites developed specifically with veterans in mind. Campus Human Resources has also begun a pilot program called the UCLA Veterans Work Experience Program (VWEP). Paid for by the Veterans Administration, the program is designed to assist veterans with their transition to full time employment by providing them with valuable on-the-job experience as a volunteer at UCLA. Additionally, UCLA's Staff and Faculty Counseling Center (SFCC) fosters a productive and supportive work environment for all employees. Services are free, voluntary, and confidential.
The David Geffen School of Medicine has a longstanding, close-knit academic partnership with the Greater Los Angeles and Sepulveda VA Hospitals. This partnership includes highly active and robust programs in research and education. Educational activities include training programs for residents and fellows and clinical education for medical students. Nearly 400 UCLA medical school faculty and 350 medical students together serve 3,000 individual VA patients annually.
UCLA School of Nursing Master's Entry Clinical Nurse (MCEN) students complete a clinical rotation at the West LA VA hospital.
The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health is actively involved in education and training with the VA with more than a dozen fellowship and research programs focused on education, research, patient care, and quality improvement. Dozens of faculty members have been engaged with the VA over the last 40+ years on issues of substance abuse research, homeless shelter research, acute quality care issues, medical home teams, and HIV positive veterans issues. Together the Fielding School and the VA have co-trained hundreds of MD and PhD student fellows, as well as over a hundred MPH/MSPH students. The VA has employed dozens of Fielding School alumni.
The UCLA School of Dentistry has been serving patients from the VA since 1990 and provides the complete denture treatments for patients at the West LA and Sepulveda VA locations.
For more than 20 years, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has sustained a relationship with the VA of Greater Los Angeles. More than 150 social welfare students have trained and provided services to the VA, and faculty members have lead roles at the West LA and Sepulveda sites.
Approximately 70 students from UCLA School of Law have provided legal services to homeless veterans in Los Angeles County since 2010. At the VA campus in West LA, student volunteers provide intake and referrals in areas such as traffic and quality-of-life citations, VA disability benefits, debt, and family law. Working with the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA)’s Veterans Project, students also assist veterans with resolving tickets and misdemeanor expungements. Additionally, law students have the opportunity to enroll in UCLA School of Law’s Veterans Benefits Legal Clinic, where they personally carry caseloads of homeless veterans seeking VA disability benefits.