Around Town: Making an impact for veterans

My generation forgot about the Vietnam veterans. This generation is bound to do better.

It is heartwarming to see private organizations such as churches, synagogues, bar associations and colleges begin to address the needs of the 2 million civilian veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The issues we confront range from homelessness, traumatic brain injury, PTSD and unemployment. The statistics vary, but it is generally understood that today, one-third of all adult homeless people are veterans. Half of those are Vietnam vets. On any given night, there are about 107,000 homeless vets.

That's why many of us feel a strong commitment to our young veterans.

My generation saw hundreds of thousands of veterans, both men and women, affected to the point that they were no longer productive members of society. We don't want to see this happen again.

One way to address veterans' issues is to create a veterans' issues committee at every synagogue, school and professional association.

Results from other groups have been inspirational. Attorney Bill Paparian, a former mayor of Pasadena, has been in the forefront of addressing the needs of criminal defendants. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan now heads a veterans' program in the Los Angeles criminal courts. Other counties have done the same. The idea is to get vets the services that they need to get them back on track.

My husband, Len Torres, recently moderated a program for Huntington Medical Research Institute, outlining their work with traumatic brain injury. His colleagues at the Marine Memorial Assn. promote programs directed to veterans' employment and education, the needs of the catastrophically wounded, and ways to help the families of our young vets.

The Los Angeles County Bar Assn. has an ad hoc armed forces committee poised to take action.

My synagogue, Adat Ari El, now has a new veterans' issues committee, still in the formation stages.

The needs are great. There are many ways to help. If your church gives out food packages at Thanksgiving, why not consider adopting a veteran's family? If your club drops off magazines at a hospital, why not put together a care package for the Wounded Warriors company at Camp Pendleton? If your professional association does pro bono work, please consider directing some of those services to our young veterans.

President George H.W. Bush suggested that we create a “thousand points of light.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “it takes a village.”

If every church, club and organization in La Cañada created a veterans' issues committee, if each did just one project, the impact would be enormous.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.

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