By Miriam Raftery
September 29, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--Following our recent special report, we’ve received some good news for East County veterans. Our investigation into County Veterans’ Services found that rural veterans were not getting their fair share of services.
After our story aired on KNSJ radio last week, Supervisor Jacob’s office contacted us. A staffer informed us that Supervisor Jacob held a meeting last week with County Veterans Service and asked for more equitable staffing. The staffer informed East County Magazine that Supervisor Jacob plans to introduce a measure before the Supervisors that would bring County Veterans Service representatives to County libraries throughout our region – including the most rural areas.
This matter was brought to our attention by Claudia Millerbragg, a reader who has been battling bureaucracy to bring more veterans’ services representatives to rural East County.
Our investigation found that Veterans in wealthy coastal areas and North county communities have been getting better access to veterans’ services than those in rural areas or inner city communities. Wealthy areas like La Jolla have veterans’ service reps visit 12 days each month. Clairemont Mesa has services daily, while Oceanside, Escondido, and Chula Vista all have services anywhere from 12 to 20 days each month. There are also visits to caastal communities that are very close together such as Carlsbad and Encinitas.
But in East County, there are no services at all east of La Mesa – and a rep only comes to La Mesa on Fridays. That means a disabled veteran in places like Jacumba, Borrego or Julian could have a drive of two to four hours round trip for services – in areas with No public transportation.
The County representatives help veterans access services such as counseling, VA loans, educational, health and job training benefits available to veterans. These are men and women who served our national honorably. Now they are hoping the rest of the County Supervisors will approve Supervisor Jacob’s proposal to assure that they will be treated with honor and dignity in return.