We are not keeping our national promise to care for our veterans and their families in the way they deserve. A proud military town, San Diego is home to approximately 240,000 veterans. We need to create innovative city, county and state solutions to fill in the gaps veterans experience waiting to be taken care of by the VA system.
Tragically, every day, 22 veterans take their lives. With 58% of post-2001 veterans being diagnosed with a mental disorder, and the average wait time for social services exceeding 4 months, we are not meeting the most pressing needs to heal these wounds of war. Immediate and effective access to a full range of mental-health service solutions is imperative.
San Diego’s affordable housing crisis disproportionately affects our veterans and active service members. As military families relocate to San Diego, they struggle to find suitable off-base housing within their housing allowance budget. During the housing crisis of 2008, foreclosure rates in military towns were 4 times the national average. Veterans often turn to their GI Bill benefits to defray housing costs. Our homeless veteran population has exploded with over 48,000 veterans on the street any given night.
Veterans are known to have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Whether providing them with business development mentoring from local leaders to increasing regional small business loans, I have ideas about how to help veterans chart their own destiny with new post-service small business ventures. California can also help educate hiring managers on how to translate the skills and training service members receive into the private sector.