How should San Diego care for our Veterans?
All Veterans deserve access to affordable housing despite discharge status, and with a mental health challenge. Often, good persons make very bad decisions. Consequently, these decisions happen because the individuals brain has been traumatized either due to an adverse childhood experience, in addition to combat, and other high stress environments. All veterans and their families deserve free mental health services, in addition to, self-care programs for children and parents. Self-care programs need to be fully paid for by Congress. Importantly, self-care includes art therapy, nature, music, and performing arts.
All veterans and their families should have the opportunity for In Home Supportive Services, fully paid for respite services. These services are for veterans and their families with mental health challenges, physical disabilities, aging, and therapeutic interventions as appropriate.
California has the largest number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States (AHAR 2016). Homeless veterans in California represent almost a quarter of the national homeless veteran population with more than one in ten homeless adults as a veteran (Ibid). San Diego holds the nation’s third largest homeless veterans population with more than 1,000 homeless veterans on a single night (Ibid). It is unacceptable to under-serve those who have served with their lives. Veterans are additionally challenged to reintegrate into the workforce when retiring from the military. In 2013, KPBS reported that veterans age 55 and older experience an unemployment rate of 11.4 percent, with 29,000 veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq living locally. Serve San Diego seeks to assist veterans in their transition to life as private citizens where military experience does not translate well to civilian jobs. Serve San Diego hopes to bridge resources for Veterans providing support and help with lack of experience in resumes, job hunting, interviewing, and other emotional and mental health challenges.