By Rick Rogers
San Diego’s best source for veteran information is the San Diego United Veterans Council, which meets the last Saturday of each month at the old Navy Chapel in Balboa Park starting at 9:30. I know it’s a drive from North County, but it’s always worth it and Saturday morning traffic isn’t bad.
Here’s a quick rundown from last week’s meeting.
* Jack Kirwan, California Department of Veterans Affairs deputy secretary for administration, said that although no state budget is likely until late July, the CDVA has a pretty idea of its funding.
“We have done fairly well,” Kirwan said. “We are still on an expansion due to our (veterans) home expansion.”
He’s talking about the pending opening of vet homes in Fresno and Redding, which would bring the number in California to eight.
The state hopes to save tens of millions on the homes across the state by realigning staffing. This move has been in works for some time.
Kirwan repeated the demise of Operation Welcome Home, former-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to reintegrate Iraq and Afghanistan veterans into civilian society.
County veterans service officers’ eyes got Christmas-morning big when Schwarzenegger suggested giving them an additional $8.5 million to make OWH happen. That money never materialized under Gov. Jerry Brown and the state debt crisis.
In its stead, the CDVA hopes to roll out CalVet Connect this fall. Details were few, but it sounds like the CDVA plans to rely on information technology, such as social media and cell phone apps, for much of its outreach.
The state hopes to prevent, what Kirwan called “couch hopping into homelessness.”
Kirwan also said the state is working on making vet homes loans “more relevant.”
* California Department of Veterans Affairs director Peter Gravett plans to visit San Diego County shortly after budget passage. Gravett took the helm of the CDVA in late April from acting director Rocky Chavez, a former Marine based at Camp Pendleton and Oceanside elected official.
More leadership changes are expected, Kirwan said.
San Diego County is widely viewed as having the strongest veterans’ organizations in California and, along with San Antonio, leads the country in innovative services.
* Volunteers are needed for 2011 edition of Stand Down San Diego, which runs July 11 thorough July 19.
The Veterans Village of San Diego organized the nation’s first Stand Down in 1988. Since then, the program has been cloned more than 200 around the United States.
For a list of the jobs, go to: http://www.vvsd.net/sd_volunteers_2011.htm
For more information, call (619) 393-2011 with contact information and dates and times available.
* Rumblings from Tom Richards, chairman of the San Diego UVC, about the California Veterans Board, on which he also serves.
The California Veterans Board, according to its website, determines the policies for all operations of CDVA.
But Richards is adamant that the board is not living up to its mandate concerning its oversight obligations of the CDVA.
More on this next week.
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