I shouldn’t have to be doing this, but I’m passing the hat again for some great guys over at the Sepulveda VA in North Hills. They’ve been training hard all year to compete in the upcoming Golden Age Games in Virginia Beach, Va., this May. It’s the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics all rolled up in one for our veterans 55 and older. The Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration used to pick up the travel tab for the team, but it stopped last year. They cried poor. Only first-year participants get their flight and hotel room paid for now. The rest of the guys who have competed before have to go hat in hand to raise the $1,000 travel cost. Many of these guys find themselves at a VA late in life because they’re in bad shape, either from sickness or alcohol and drug abuse. “I came to the VA with high blood pressure and cholesterol that was off the charts,” said one 59-year-old Vietnam veteran. “Like a lot of vets, basically I had given up. “Then I see these guys a decade older than me in great shape working out every day in the gym. They changed my life; not the doctors.” Even the VA, in its own brochure on the Golden Age Games, admits as much, calling the games “a fountain of youth for the rapidly aging veteran population.” “It’s the premier senior adaptive rehabilitation program in the United States,” the VA says. It just doesn’t want to pay for that fountain of youth for our aging veterans to go to the games anymore. “We were spending more than $100,000 annually to send participants from West Los Angeles, Sepulveda and outpatient VA clinics,” VA spokeswoman Beverly Fitzgerald told me last year when the cuts were announced. “We could not justify spending that huge amount on the games when there were other medical costs we could spend the money on,” she added. If the program is indeed a fountain of youth that has turned the lives of so many previously unhealthy vets into healthy ones, how can the VA afford not to pay? Sounds like the Golden Age Games are a great medical cost. Beats me, but it’s not. So the guys over at Sepulveda VA have to come to us again this year, hat in hand. Our local Golden Age Games team has 17 men eligible to participate this year. Only three of them are first-time participants, so the VA is picking up the $1,000 tab for each of them this year only. Starler and Palmer are paying their own way, so that leaves 12 men who need our help to make it back to their fountain of youth. If you want to help sponsor a Golden Age Games vet, a check for whatever amount you can afford should be sent to the VA Medical Center, 16111 Plummer St., Sepulveda, 91343, care of Patty Jones, CTRS, (Recreation Therapy 117F). The check needs to be made out to GPF #2071, a group plan fund set up for participants. A memo on the check should say it’s for Sepulveda Golden Age Game Athletes. Again, we shouldn’t have to be doing this, the VA should. But these hardworking vets deserve another shot at that fountain of youth. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant It isn’t right, but that’s the way it is. “These aren’t guys with $1,000 lying around for an airline flight and hotel room for a week,” says Steve Palmer, an 83-year-old World War II vet, who brought home a gold medal in the pentathlon and a silver in the half-mile bike race last year. “Most of them are living on a shoestring. The games are a lifeline for them, but they’re not going to be able to go unless we can raise the money for them.” So Palmer and 71-year-old Don Starler – two team members who can afford to pay their own way – were looking to raise some cash on Presidents Day for some of their buddies in the gym fitness program over at the Sepulveda VA. Our local team always brings home a ton of medals because it works hard all year in a regimented training program. The benefits to the vets and the public are enormous – even if the VA doesn’t think so anymore.