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Veterans’ Groups Fight for Operation Welcome Home Funding

— San Diego veterans' groups are calling on the State Assembly to fully fund Operation Welcome Home. The program to connect veterans with federal services is slated to receive about $7.3 million less than originally proposed.

Operation Welcome Home outreach workers are meant to connect with new veterans to help them sign up for federal services like health care and job placement assistance.

The state assembly’s joint budget committee is recommending $12 million be spent on the program instead of the $20 million promised when the program launched last month.

Tony Nufer is the president of the San Diego Military Advisory Council. He said the funding cut will mean fewer vets getting federal support and more relying on local services.

“It sets up California to pay increased social costs for unemployed and homeless veterans. Maintaining a collaborative approach focus reduces the outreach cost for many of the other state and county and individual organizations that provide services to veterans,” he said

San Diego County is home to about 240,000 veterans. The United Veterans Council estimates about 29,000 of them served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Local Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher joined the Military Advisory Council and United Veterans Council in calling on his colleagues to fully fund the program. He said California vets are among those who receive the least in federal support.

“Operation Welcome Home takes us a step in the right direction. It specifically does it by helping equip our county veterans’ service office with the staff and resources they need to ensure that our returning veterans get the whole host of federal benefits that they’ve earned that often go unclaimed,” he said.

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