On Tuesday evening, the California Legislature perpetrated a great injustice against a group of our most valued and vulnerable citizens. The budget bill would require an intolerable year-long delay to 150-bed veterans’ homes being constructed in Redding and Fresno, denying necessary services to those citizens who have spent their lives protecting our nation.
Our soldiers make their sacrifices trusting that our government and citizens will support them as they recover. The California government has failed in its duty to provide for our most valued citizens.
As our soldiers continue to sacrifice both life and limb in Iraq and Afghani-stan, the California government has begun the process of pruning away veterans’ assistance, dishonoring our troops’ service and sacrifice. The veterans’ homes in Fresno and Redding target areas hit hardest by the economic recession, providing much-needed services to our valued veterans and allowing our returning soldiers to recover in their own communities. However, this budget is a clear demonstration of the Legislature’s lack of respect for the service and sacrifice of our troops.
These homes provide essential services to veterans of all ages, and this decision will leave many without the facilities they require to adjust to civilian life and receive the medical care they need. These cuts cannot be made without thought for the lives of the veterans and their families who will be dramatically impacted. The budget bill rides on the backs of veterans in both Redding and Fresno, saddling them with the burden of our state’s fiscal woes. We understand the state faces fiscal challenges, but denying assistance to our veterans is not the solution to our fiscal ills.
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The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California, stands in firm opposition to the shameful actions of the California Legislature.
Our returning veterans will find themselves displaced from their communities and families to receive the support they need. In the face of our government’s failure, our veterans must rely on our private citizens for support. Our collective efforts can help correct the state’s failures. Veterans’ organizations like the Fisher House Foundation, which assists families relocating closer to veterans homes, need the public’s help to repair the damage the California Legislature has caused. Bobby Price is state commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars.