By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A 90-year-old Army veteran is now on track to receive the benefits he earned more than half a century ago. A Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm is now connecting with fellow veterans to talk about issues they have in common. And a female Marine met face-to-face with Veterans Administration officials to cut through the bureaucracy and solve problems. These are just a few of the stories told by hundreds of High Desert veterans who turned out May 30 for the sixth annual Veterans Resource Fair hosted by Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood.
“It’s wonderful to see so many veterans get connected to the services they’ve earned,” Supervisor Lovingood said. “San Bernardino County is committed to serving veterans, and this resource fair is a small, but important way, to say ‘thank you’ to our vets.”
In the 2017- 18 fiscal year, the County Department of Veterans Affairs served 34,100 veterans and family members. The department filed service connected disability claims which resulted in veterans receiving over $45 million this past year. This is the highest amount received by any county in California.
One woman whose husband was wounded in Vietnam said she finds it difficult to find the right information on the Internet.
“I found out some very good information here,” she said. “For one, the Disabled American Veterans told me that if something happens, I can just go to them and they will help me with anything I have to do. That is a big deal, a big deal. This eases my heart, and my Mom’s too.”
Nic Balderas, a veterans service officer with the San Bernardino County Department of Veterans Affairs, and his colleagues met one-on-one with dozens of veterans to help with problems.
“Unfortunately, when veterans are discharged from the military, they don’t know what they don’t know. There is so much information that is out there that is not given to them when they are discharged,” Balderas said. “Today, we met a gentleman, 90 years old, who has never received anything (of veterans benefits). Now he has the possibility of receiving a V.A. pension because, again, he didn’t know what he didn’t know … Now, hopefully, we’ll be able to get some support and improve his quality of life.”
The San Bernardino County Department of Veterans Affairs’ High Desert office is at 15900 Smoke Tree St., in Hesperia. For information, call (760) 995-8010 or click on http://hs.sbcounty.gov/va/Pages/default.aspx.