We salute the veteran navigators who have generously given their time to come help the vets of the San Juan Islands, not once, not twice but three times so far.
As with most aging demographics, military veterans are often underserved. Many are not aware of the benefits for which they qualify or how to obtain them.
The veteran navigators traveling from Whatcom County have helped more than 65 of our community’s veterans with getting access to the services they need and to which they are entitled.
Here are some veteran facts.
Ten percent of our neighbors served in the military. Approximately 2,500 residents of San Juan County served in the military, according to the county. Washington state has the fourth-highest number of homeless veterans in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2016, no veterans were living in subsidized housing in San Juan County, according to the state’s Department of Commerce.
I’ve seen the struggles veterans have to go through to get proper health care firsthand. Both my dad and my stepdad were in the Army for several years – my dad for 15 and my stepdad for 21. When my stepdad retired, Veterans Affairs labeled him 210 percent disabled (yet only pay up to 100 percent). They assign percentage points based on how many mental and physical ailments you have – he has a lot.
In 2018 I created a GoFundMe for my stepdad to purchase dentures because his teeth had rotted from the various medications he has been on over the years for a plethora of ailments. He just turned 53. He does not live in the San Juan Islands and has not had access to veteran navigators.
Veterans are all around us and are struggling with housing and health care. It’s nice to know there are people who care enough for our community members, who were in our country’s military, to help them receive the assistance and support they earned with their service.
We thank the veteran navigators from the bottom of our hearts for all that they have done for the veterans of our islands.