By Nadin Abbott
March 11, 2014 (San Diego) – Following an East County Magazine investigation that found a disparity in distribution of veterans’ services countywide, today the Board of Supervisors voted to expand veterans’ services from the current locations in urban areas to also include County libraries-- starting with Ramona, El Cajon, Pine Valley and Julian. Volunteers who are veterans themselves will staff these services.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob introduced the proposal, emphasizing that many of the veterans who reside in rural areas of the County “cannot access the nine current locations.” So this expansion was needed.
The County has the third largest concentration of veterans in the nation--and most of those live in East Conty, Supervisor Jacob has indicated. Jacob added that as the wars in the Middle East wind down, many veterans will continue to come to San Diego.
Our investigation found an abundance of veterans' services in wealthy coastal areas with mass transit, but no services at all in rural areas that lack mass transit and where many residents are low income.
This measure passed unanimously by the four present members of the Board; Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent.
The services will be provided by volunteers only, however, as the measure provided no funding for new staff or shifting staff from urban to rural areas.
Claudia Millerbragg of Campo, whose complaint prompted our investigation, says that will mean veterans will still need to travel to urban areas for certain services that volunteers don't handle. But she added, "It's a start."