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SD Veterans Face Challenges

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Video published November 12, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: San Diego honored veterans this week with a parade and other ceremonies, but according to a recent report, 26,000 vets want help from the V.A. medical center here.

In San Diego, with 235,000 military veterans, everyday could be veterans day. We honored those vets this week with a parade and other ceremonies but according to a recent report, 26,000 vets want help from the V.A. medical center here.

Guest

Tony Perry, San Diego Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

IN SAN DIEGO WITH 235,000 MILITARY VETERANS EVERY DAY COULD BE VETERANS DAY. WE HONOR THOSE THIS WEEK WITH A PARADE AND OTHER CEREMONIES. ACCORDING TO A RECENT REPORT, 26,000 VETS WANT HELP FROM THE VA MEDICAL CENTER HERE. JOINING ME TO DISCUSS CHALLENGES FACED BY OUR LOCAL VETERAN COMMUNITY IS TONY PERRY BUREAU CHIEF OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. WELCOME BACK.

MY PLEASURE.

HOW ARE YOU HEARING VETERANS ARE FAIRING?

THERE ARE ISSUES. UNEMPLOYMENT IS AN ISSUE. WE HAVE HEARD ABOUT TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY. PTSD. THE WHOLE SYSTEM. THE VA SYSTEM. ACTIVE DUTY MEDICAL SYSTEM OF THE NAVY. IT IS STRUGGLING TO COPE. THIS THING HAS GONE ON SINCE 2001. IT WILL GO ON LONGER. AFTER THE SHOOTING STOPS THE PROBLEMS, THE ISSUES WON'T STOP. JUST IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, STATISTICS HAVE COME OUT ABOUT AGENT ORANGE AND VIETNAM VETS AND THEIR ISSUES. WHEN WE SEND YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN FORWARD TO RISK THEIR LIVES THE COMMIT WE HAVE WHEN THEY RETURN DOES NOT END WHEN THEY TAKE THE UNIFORM OFF. IT GOES ON AND ON. THE QUESTION IS ARE WE UP TO IT? CAN WE AFFORD IT? 99% OF US WHO DO NOT SERVE, ARE WE UP TO IT?

THE ISSUE HERE IS THAT SAN DIEGOING IS THOUGHT OF AS A MILITARY TOWN. I'M WONDERING HOW, PARTICULARLY SAN DIEGO IS EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THE VETS WHO NEED OUR HELP?

I THINK IT IS EQUIPPED WELL. SAN DIEGO ISN'T JUST THOUGHT OF AS A MILITARY TOWN. IT IS THE PREIMMINENT MILITARY TOWN IN THE UNITED STATES. VA CENTER IS STEPPING UP. SAN DIEGO MEDICAL CENTERING, NAVY MEDICAL CENTER IS STEPPING UP. PRIVATE GROUPS ARE STEPPING UP. IS IT ENOUGH? WE'LL SEE LONG TERM. SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY, U V SAN DIEGO STEPPING UP TO HELP VETERANS GET BACK IN COLLEGE OR GO TO COLLEGE WITH A NEW GI BILL.

THERE IS A POPULATION OF VETERANS YOU HAVE NOT SPECIFICALLY SPOKEN ABOUT. THOSE ARE THE HOMELESS VETERANS. WE UNDERSTAND MORE AND MORE HOMELESS VETERANS ARE BEING FOUND ON THE STREETS. WHAT PROGRAMS ARE THERE TO DEAL WITH THEM?

THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. VETERANS FROM ALL OF COLD WAR, VIETNAM, WORLD WAR II ARE OUT THERE. NOW WE ARE SEEING SMALL NUMBERS AND MOST OF THE EVIDENCE IS ANECDOTAL. WE ARE SEEING SOME FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. CAN QUESTION IS CAN WE STEP UP FOR THOSE FOLKS WHO ARE NOT IN THE REAL BAD SPIRAL THAT SOMETIMES O O -- OCCURS.

THOSE THAT ARE SIMPLY LOOKING FOR A JOB WHAT IS OUT THERE?

THERE ARE STATS THAT SHOW UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG RETURNING VETERANS IS HIGHIER THAN AMONG THE SIMILAR DEMOGRAPHIC OF CIVILIANS. JUST YESTERDAY THE GOVERNOR INAUGURATED A PROGRAM OF STATE TO HELP THESE FOLKS FIND JOBS TO GET THEM BACK IN THE ECONOMY.

WE KNOW YOU FOLLOW CAMP PENDLETON MARINES CLOSELY. YOU HAVE BEEN TO IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WITH THEM. HOW HAVE THEY FAIRED RECENTLY?

FIGHTING IS INTENSE. THE BATTLE IS JOINED. MARINES IN CAMP PENDLETON ARE SERVING AND SACRIFICING. WE HAVE HAD TWO DOZEN DEAD IN THE LAST SIX WEEKS. MORE ON THE WAY. THAT BATTLE IS NOT OVER. IF THIS IS FOREIGN POLICY WE WANT CINCH UP YOUR PANTS. IT WILL TAKE LONGER. YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WILL DIE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

MY PLEASURE.

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