Every year we honor them with parades…concerts…picnics. We use words like valor, duty, and sacrifice to describe their service to our nation. We focus on the grand gesture but somehow ignore the daily challenges they face. Our veterans have chosen to serve their nation and defend our freedoms. They have taken care of us abroad and we should take care of them at home.
But as a nation we’re not doing the best we can. Last year a whistleblower exposed widespread delays and cover-ups across the VA healthcare system that resulted in the deaths of veterans waiting for care. Major reforms of the largest health care system in the country, as well as the entire VA system are underway as a result of the exposure.
Unfortunately health care is not the only pressing problem our veterans face. There are an estimated 60,000 homeless veterans nationwide. And as home to one of the largest populations of veterans in the country, the Inland Empire has its share of chronically homeless former service men and women.
Identified by the federal government as one of the 56 high need regions across the nation, the Inland Empire will receive $4.5 million in grants aimed at ending chronic homelessness among our region’s veterans. The grants, announced last month, have been awarded to US Vets and Moreno Valley Lighthouse Treatment Center, organizations that while based in Riverside County, also assist San Bernardino County veterans.
The grants will allow Lighthouse to expand from 150 to 225 and US Vets from 450 to 724 veterans they can serve. And will help homeless vets and their families who are currently in need of shelter as well as support and prevention services with a larger goal of ending homelessness among our region’s veterans by the end of next year. That goal was set by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors last Veterans Day after a survey of homeless veterans found an overall increase in the county. The survey, conducted by Riverside County’s VALOR Task Force (Veterans Assistance Leadership of Riverside County), was part of a federally mandated count targeting the Obama Administration’s priority goal to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.
Just last week in addition to the $3 million in grant funding, US Vets CEO Steve Peck announced that the organization received the final funding to complete its new facility at the former March Air Force Base that will provide 200 permanent and transitional beds.
I believe that is one of the best ways to honor those who served.
Yesterday VA Director Robert McDonald presented MyVA, his strategy to improve services to all of the nation’s 1.4 million veterans. Click here to read the press release.