WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jeff Denham, a veteran of Desert Storm, hosted a Veterans Roundtable in Sonora Monday night. The roundtables are face-to-face meetings where active military personnel and veterans’ concerns can be addressed on a personal level. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Denham has been working to streamline the bureaucratic process impeding benefits for many veterans. Denham has held roundtables in Modesto and Fresno as well, according to a news release from his office.
“We must remember our commitment to take care of our troops for the years to come,” said Denham. “Our responsibility to our veterans is to make sure they have a job when they come home.”
Unemployment among veterans is still on the rise, and was a prominent topic at the roundtable. Ensuring that returning service members can find work to help them make the transition to civilian life must be a No. 1 priority, the release said. Denham has co-sponsored the House-passed Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, comprehensive legislation to help stem the rising unemployment rate among America’s veterans population. Currently, nearly 1 million veterans in the United States and 9.7 percent of veterans in California are unemployed.
"Holding these roundtable meetings is very important to me,” added Denham. “The forums allow for honest conversations about how to best care for our brave men and women returning home."
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During the roundtable Denham also drew on his recent trip to Afghanistan. He stressed the importance of ensuring our veterans are aware of the care available to them and they are receiving the care they were promised.
"Congressman Denham understands the struggles returning service members face and has always been a strong advocate for the veterans community," Erik Andal the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3154 adjutant and participant at the roundtable, said in the news release. “All of us in the local community really appreciate the opportunity to interact with our Congressman and the panel of experts he brought with him.”
Tonight’s panelists included:
1) Congressman Jeff Denham / now the Veterans Affairs Committee
2) Robert Geldman / Admin Officer- Cong Liaison, VAPAHCS Livermore Division
3) Pete Molina CDVA
4) Trevor Albertson, DepSec for Veteran Services, CDVA
5) Steve Lawson / Key Staff – Team Leader, Modesto Vet Center
6) Beth Barnes / Senior Service Officer, Tuolumne County VSO
7) Susan Reid / Area Expert Therapist, Specializing in Combat Veterans