Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – May 3, 2021

Recently a call from a concerned citizen put me in touch with Jerry
Johnson a long time Marine Veteran who has advocated for Veteran affairs
for many years.  Mr. Johnson, the former and long time president of the
VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars, had become concerned upon returning from
a hospital stay in Redding, California that the PTSD, Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder, group which typically met at the Veterans Hall had been
prevented from meeting and professional volunteers who provided medical
and mental support were being denied access to the group.  While the
Veterans Affairs is a County operation, some funding comes from its
Federal partners.  Because the local office had closed due to Pandemic
mandates, the PTSD group as well as other groups which formally met in
the hall had been left out in the cold over the winter months.  When the
office was allowed to reopen in March, is was not clear that this was
the case as veterans efforts to restart the PTSD meeting ended by
encountering locked doors.

A call to our new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Mr. Neal Lopez resulted in his authorization of
the Veterans Memorial Hall to be reopened to the public on Monday April
19th sometime after other offices had opened their respective doors.  It
still can be confusing when attempting to access the building unless you
know which of the building six doors happen to be unlocked at any given
time. Generally that will be one of the two central doors.  Many vets
have reported being turned away when finding the building doors appear
to be locked.  The Veterans Affairs Office could also use consistent
hours of operation postings on the website, the doors to the hall and on
their phone messaging system.

Many of the services formally offered to vets have long since gone by
the board, but a substantial list of offering still remain for veterans
to access.  Medical and Mental services remain problematic and are very
often resulting in a referral to Health and Human Services.  There do
not appear to be any local providers specifically for Veterans with
service related injuries after the Brooking location ceased its
operation.  As of this moment, no group meetings have been held at the
Veterans Memorial Hall for the PTSD group, the VFW, or the Women’s
Auxiliary to the VFW.  It is hoped that by shining the light on Veterans
Affairs, these groups will be able to resume their important
contributions to the veterans community, who at last census represented
over 2100 of Del Norte’s residents, many of which are homeless.

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