United States Congressman Bob Filner and California State Assemblywoman Mary Salas are sponsoring a January 8, 2010 Meeting of Stakeholders of the San Diego County veterans’ community. The stakeholders will discuss the California State Auditor’s recent report regarding the performance of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Salas, in her role as Chair of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, had requested a State Auditor’s audit and report after several hearings in her Committee uncovered shortcomings in the VA’s performance.
As reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Auditor Elaine Howle said the agency came up short in helping former service members secure affordable housing, alarming because of the number of homeless veterans. She also said that the VA could do a better job of informing veterans about federal benefits available to them.
Said Howle: The agency “provides few direct person-to-person services to veterans and receives very little funding” to support California’s homeless veterans and to increase awareness of mental-health programs. “The Department has only recently begun to step up its efforts to collaborate with other state entities.”
“The leaders in the Meeting of Stakeholders will review and discuss the auditor’s report and ways to improve services for California’s veterans,” said Congressman Filner, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “A document will come out of the meeting with recommendations to present to the California VA.”
In their roles as Chairs of the U.S. and California Veterans’ Affairs Committees, the two lawmakers are in an ideal position to call for veteran leaders to provide direction to the California VA. “There are thousands of veterans falling through the cracks and not getting the services they need,” said Salas. “Our aim in convening the Meeting of Stakeholders is to provide helpful suggestions coming from veteran leaders to the VA.”