“I’ve worked with the congresswomen for several years, and when Ray called me I was glad to set this up. Were all here, so with no further ado, Congresswoman Lois Capps,” said Lompoc veteran Frank Campo. Sixty-five veterans met Tuesday to voice concerns on a wide range of issues facing them. Newly elected to represent a redrawn district Capps said, “I want to be a voice on veterans issues for you in Washington.”
After self-introductions Capps introduced her veteran’s liaison, Ray Morua.
“When you apply for benefits, or for any issue that has to do with the federal government, once you have gone through all the moves and done everything you can do, we are your last line of defense,” said Morua. “Were here to help you out. If you have any issues with the VA (Veterans Affairs) trying to get your benefits we’re here.”
Several veterans mentioned problems with medical services. Many related personal experiences where services were denied without explanation or delayed for decades. One Vietnam era veteran has been denied treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) off-and-on since the early 80s. Another asserted that backlogs are delaying a million veterans PTSD care, including recent combat veterans.
Many criticized poor administration and confusing medical programs at the VA. “Obama Care” was questioned and how it would affect veterans.
Among other concerns was a long planed local veteran’s cemetery, Cold War era veterans being denied services though they may have served in a combat role, and lack of response from elected leaders.
Capps received support from several veterans for her work to get grant funding for the Lompoc Memorial Building renovation, and she promised to continue seeking funds. She was recognized for her successful effort to recreate a medical veteran’s shuttle in North County and her effort to establish a shuttle to the Los Angeles VA Hospital. Capps, familiar with the plans for the cemetery, vowed to move the project forward.
“There are no excuses for Vets not getting their services. We will create a path to the VA’s door,” said the congresswoman. Referring to her office, she said, “Whatever the issue just give us a call. We would rather know and be able to try than do nothing.”
“Veterans should not start from scratch when they return. Its not a political issue at all. It’s about the way to meet the needs of veterans. If you have any ideas for bills I should introduce let me know,” said Capps. “I am a big supporter of you getting your benefits from the VA. We already have heard they are a tough agency to negotiate with. When you get stuck let us know. We can get stuck too, but at least our voices can work together.”