Serving Valley Veterans
Our Valley’s veterans hail from all backgrounds and represent what is great about our nation. The debt we owe to these selfless individuals and their families is immeasurable and we must always deliver on the promises made to those who stand up to protect our freedom and values.
Every day we have the responsibility to assist our service members and it is my personal mission to help our Valley’s veterans access the benefits they have earned and deserve. Since taking office, I have helped over 1,000 Valley veterans cut through red tape at the Veterans Administration (VA) or other federal agencies to access their health care, social security checks, and even medals. If you or a veteran you know is having difficulty with the VA or federal government, I encourage you to call my office in Fresno at (559) 495-1620.
Along with working with our veterans personally, I have fought to secure funding for programs and pass legislation that will benefit members of our armed services.
Fresno Veterans Home
One of the greatest achievements for our veterans can be found right here in our Valley. After we fought to secure $92 million in funding and a location, I was able to join with local veterans and leaders to break ground on the first ever Veterans Home in Fresno County. In 2013, we opened the Fresno Veterans Home, which includes a 120-bed nursing home and a 180-bed domiciliary. Construction of the home created nearly 1000 jobs in the Fresno area.
Reducing the VA Backlog
Veterans in the Central Valley know all too well the severe backlogs that plague the Oakland and Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Offices. When the VA announced that not one California benefits office would implement a pilot program to reduce the backlog, I urged the VA to reverse its decision and received a commitment from the VA for additional staff and training at the Oakland office. I also instructed the government watchdog agency to investigate the Los Angeles office and provide recommendations for how to reduce the backlog.
Legislation for Veterans
With over one million unemployed veterans in the United States today, it is imperative for us to find ways in which we can ease their transition to civilian life. One of the best ways to facilitate that transition is by helping them find gainful employment. That’s why I was proud to support the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. This law helps our veterans by expanding education and training programs; educating separating service members on how their military skills and training can be easily adapted in civilian life; allowing service members to begin the federal employment process prior to their separation; and providing a veterans tax credit to businesses that hire veterans.
The President also signed another bill that passed the House with my strong support, the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011. In 2008, Congress passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, landmark legislation that restored the promise of a four-year education for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This law builds upon the success of the Post-9/11 GI Bill by increasing the amount of educational assistance available to student veterans attending private universities and colleges.
Because just one veteran falling asleep at night without a permanent roof over his or her head is one veteran too many, I fought to secure $1 million to help homeless and at-risk veteran families in the Valley find sustainable, stable housing. Ending homelessness among veterans and their families once and for all must be a national goal.
On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. Let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.
More on Serving Valley Veterans
The Korean War had been raging for two years when Riverdale native Bill Robinett spent his first night in a trench in Korea. He was 22 and scared.
“It was very scary, of course, especially the first week and first night,” says Robinett, now 85 and living in Fresno. “We were in our trench and they (North Koreans) were in their trench about a quarter-mile away and it was a case of who could shoot the most at each other.
Bill Robinett of Fresno is a Korean War veteran who will be traveling to Washington, D.C. with the Central Valley Honor Flight.
At only seven years old, Brandon Colwell knows the importance of honoring his grandfather and great-grandfather.
"These people were fighting and because of the Civil War," Brandon said.
His grandfather Don Colwell says they attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Memorial Gardens every year, and they sit next to a veteran's grave that's very special, his father's.\
"It's the closest we can get to him on earth, and he's just very special," Colwell said.
Hundreds gathered Monday to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Though Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who have died in U.S. military service, chaplain Capt. Kenneth Cain stressed to a crowd here Sunday the importance of remembering and honoring all veterans who have died.
“Not all who sleep here died in combat or were even in a combat arena,” he told the roughly 600 people who attended a Memorial Day service at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.