Harvard Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’66 appeared on PBS’s Charlie Rose show on July 11 to discuss his participation in Valentini v. Shinseki, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Tribe, Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver, the ACLU and numerous veteran representatives and advocates against Veterans Administration Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.
The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Veterans Affairs is misusing its West Los Angeles VA Campus.
“There are an amazing number of homeless veterans who are in terrible shape,” Tribe said. “They put their lives on the line for the country, and they come back – many of them have PTSD, terrible brain damage. … About 8,000 of them are homeless in Los Angeles. The irony is, there is a perfect place where they could be taken care of: there’s this huge facility about half the size of Central Park that was donated to the Veterans Administration in 1888, specifically for people who were wounded in war.”
“It was used that way for about eight decades … but for some reason, we began turning our back on the vets around the time of the Vietnam War,” he said. “Now it’s used for high-end rentals – for a laundry facility, for hotels, for a golf course – while [veterans] sleep outside. … It’s a tragedy, it’s heartbreaking.”
Tribe further discussed the lawsuit in the June 9 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Why Wounded Soldiers Sleep in Dumpsters,” co-written with Shriver.
The full Charlie Rose interview – which also included brief discussion of the national debt, healthcare reform, gay marriage and the aspirations of Harvard Law School students – is available here.
An expert on Constitutional Law, Tribe was appointed Carl M. Loeb University Professor in 2004. His most recent book is “The Invisible Constitution” (Oxford University Press, 2008). He recently served as senior counselor for access to justice in the U.S. Justice Department.