Napa County’s 11,000 veterans will soon have a bigger megaphone to voice their concerns and needs.
The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create the nine-person Veterans’ Commission. This group will make recommendation to supervisors on veterans matters.
“By voting on this commission, you’re saying, ‘We’re listening and we care about your issues,’” local veterans advocate Frank Lucier told supervisors last week.
Almon Bundy, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army, struck a similar note.
“We can’t do it ourselves,” Bundy said. “We need your help.”
Local attorney Naomi Dreskin-Anderson has clients who are veterans. She said she initially had no idea what a challenge it would be to work with the bureaucracy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Anything that this county can do to enhance the well-being of our veterans, we need to make that happen,” she told supervisors.
The county already has the Veterans Advocacy Coalition. But Coalition member Lucier in September told supervisors that veterans face issues that cannot be dealt with by that group.
For example, he said his father-in law who served in the Korean War must take five buses to reach the federal veterans clinic in Martinez. Napa County has no clinic.
County Veterans Service Officer Patrick Jolly said only residents at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville can receive health care from that state facility.
Assessor John Tuteur said disabled veterans can receive a major exemption for their principal residence. Over the years, on four occasions he found unmarried spouses who were eligible for benefits because their late spouses had been classified as 100 percent disabled — and didn’t know it.
Following up on that thought, Board of Supervisors Chair Brad Wagenknecht said there are a number of benefits veterans don’t think they qualify for or don’t understand.
“That’s another issue,” Wagenknecht said.
The Veterans’ Commission is to raise awareness on issues ranging from benefits to physical and mental health to transportation. The commission is charged with:
- Studying, investigating and researching veterans matters in the county so that veterans services can be coordinated and maximized.
- Reviewing annually the status of veterans benefits and services.
- Making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on programs, plans, goals, policies and procedures dealing with veterans services.
- Submitting an annual strategic plan.
- Assisting in all veterans observance days.
The Board of Supervisors will appoint commission members to four-year terms. The group is to meet at 1:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month in the county Comprehensive Services for Older Adults office, 650 Imperial Way in the city of Napa.
People can apply for any committee and commission online. Go to the Board of Supervisors website at www.countyofnapa.org/2116/Board-of-Supervisors, go the “About the Board” heading and click on “committees and commissions.”
The Veterans’ Commission won’t appear under the “current openings” section until week’s end, when the county will also announce the application deadline. Still, people can download the application form for all committees and submit it to be considered for a Veterans’ Commission seat.
People can also obtain an application at the county Administration Building at 1195 Third St. in Napa. Call 253-4421 for more information.