Politics Magazine

Press – High Desert Officials Continue Looking out for Veterans

Posted on the 14 November 2013 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

Elected officials, such as Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, and San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, continue to look after local veterans beyond the public’s observance of Veterans Day.

In a Nov. 12 news release, Congressman Cook’s office informed the public that Cook and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, have teamed up to establish the “Work for Warriors Caucus,” a bipartisan group that will promote and increase awareness about California’s successful “Work for Warriors” program.

The 2012 program, which uses state funding, is tasked with the challenge to reduce unemployment in the California National Guard by 25 percent. Congressman Cook said the program has already been “tremendously successful” helping California National Guard members find employment in the civilian job market.

“It’s one of the most effective programs of its kind,” Cook stated in the news release. “I hope that our caucus can help to make the program even more successful and expand it to other states.”

Because of the program’s success, the Department of Defense provided $1 million to maintain and expand WFW, according to the news release. The program’s eventual goal is to expand its assistance in California with the possibility of being replicated in other states.

Find out more about the WFW program by visiting http://www.calguard.ca.gov/WFW.

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Rep. Paul Cook at the Apple Valley Town Conference Center - Courtesy of Congressman Cook's office

Rep. Paul Cook at the Apple Valley Town Conference Center – Courtesy of Congressman Cook’s office

Congressman Cook also was busy hosting an informational forum on veterans’ benefits on Nov. 8. at the Apple Valley Town Conference Center in Apple Valley.

The event gave Cook the opportunity to reach out to local veterans to provide critical information on government benefits and services. Active-duty service members, veterans, as well as dependents attended the event, interacting with various agency representatives to receive answers to their questions, according to a news release provided by Congressman Cook’s office.

For more information, contact Congressman Cook’s office at 760-247-1815 or visit his online site at http://cook.house.gov.

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First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood announced on Veterans Day that San Bernardino County is on track serving its veterans.

Lovingood stated in an email that the county Department of Veterans Affairs offers assistance to the 324,000 veterans, military and family members residing in the county. The county service helps veterans with claims assistance, provides referrals to other programs, while also advocating for individual veterans and on policy and legislative issues that affect the veterans community.

SB Co. Veterans Affairs Administration

SB Co. Veterans Affairs Administration

“As County Supervisor, one of my priorities is to increase accountability and ensure programs are achieving ‘measurable results,’” Lovingood stated. “The department earned a customer satisfaction rating of ‘excellent’ from 94 percent of clients reporting. That’s a level of success that Veterans Department Director Bill Moseley and his staff – and every taxpayer – can be proud of.”

According to Lovingood, walk-in traffic and phone calls to the County Department of Veterans Affairs has increased 91 percent (with the department averaging 180 phone calls a day) since 2004. This is partly due to soldiers, who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving the military. Also, as Korea and Vietnam-era veterans get older, they seek more services.

The following are some of the projects the county has initiated:
– Services to 22,300 unique clients.
– Processed 5,800 new or re-opened disability claims.
– Organized and promoted a series of regional community resource workshops around the county.
– Organized PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury training for community mental health clinicians, drug and alcohol counselors, probation officers, members of the clergy, and other service providers.
– Provided behavioral health workshops for veterans and their families.
– Hosted regional focus groups of veterans, military, their families to determine how to better deliver mental health services.
– Approved 1,023 California College Fee Waivers.

In addition, the county plans to roll out a new program (recently approved by the board of supervisors) early next year to provide local veterans with discounts at participating merchants.

To contact the San Bernardino County Department of Veterans Affairs, call 866-4SB-VETS or visit http://www.SBCounty.gov/va. Lovingood can be reached at 760-995-8100 or by email at [email protected].

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