WALNUT CREEK, CA (Nov. 16, 2023) – Those who answered the call certainly are owed a debt of gratitude.
But after concluding their military service, the work for veterans is hardly over when it comes to getting all the benefits and services for which they are entitled.
That said the annual Veterans Resource Fair, sponsored in some form by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier nearly every year since he was first elected 2014, held Nov. 3 at the Walnut Creek Shadelands Art Center, again made that task a little easier as federal, state, and county agencies and other veteran organizations were on hand to lend assistance to the nearly 100 veterans and loved ones who attended.
DeSaulnier’s 10th District is home to 27,000 veterans.
Jorge Barriere, a newcomer to Contra Costa County who served in Afghanistan and Iraq from 1996 to 2016, was among those most appreciative to receive the invite from DeSaulnier for the event.
“I am getting to the know the area and learning where to go for services,” he said.
Barriere noted such an event “saved him a lot of time digging around” for the assistance he was seeking. He made an inquiry at the event to a representative of DAV.org, which provides help to disabled American veterans with navigating their Veterans Administration (VA) benefits and providing counseling for veterans, was most pleased he was able to get a claim started right away.
Similar stories were playing out around the community room as about a dozen vendors were on hand for veterans to make inquiries. Participating groups and organizations included Veterans Benefits Administration, which also had the following Northern California providers representing care givers support group, patient experience, eligibility and enrollment, LGBTQ+ group, Women’s Veterans Group, community care; Concord Veterans Center, California Department of Veterans Affairs, Contra Costa County Veterans Service Office, Veterans Accession House, California Department of Insurance, VA National Cemetery Administration, and Antioch Riverton Lions Club.
“I am already getting military retirement,” said Rossmoor resident Dennis Johnson, who served from 1962 to 1992, including places like Vietnam, but he came out to see what other benefits are available and meet other veterans.
David Light, of Walnut Creek, who served in the Navy, from 1956-1958 with assignments in the South Pacific, recalled attending past resource events eight years ago when he was a bit more mobile and wanted to check out this one.
Light gave high marks to the Martinez VA, which assisted him with getting his walker as well as hearing aids.
“They are very helpful,” he said.
David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.