February 21, 2016

Helping Veterans in San Mateo County

DURING MY TENURE on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, one of my focus areas has been veterans. You might not know it but approximately 33,000 vets live in our county and it goes without saying that we owe them a great deal.

Much work is going on behalf of Peninsula veterans and I would like to share a few of those initiatives with you.

One of my first pieces of legislation on the board was to create an eleven person Veterans Commission. The board is comprised of men and women from throughout the county and from the various military services. Their mission is to create a more coordinated service delivery system for former military personnel and their families. The commission is currently focused on creating bylaws, a strategic plan and determining their priorities.

Next, a Vet Connect space was created in the East Palo Alto Library. While the area is physically small, it will have a big impact. It will serve as a resource center for veterans. Staff are available to answer VA related questions. Eventually I would like to add teleconferencing capabilities to the center so that a veteran could communicate directly with a Veterans Service Officer at the county vet office in Belmont - thereby saving time and money for the vet.

A little more than four years ago, a group of people came together to envision a homeless veteran housing unit that was to be built on the campus of the Menlo Park VA. Thanks to the hard work and focus of CORE builders, the VA, the City of Menlo Park, San Mateo County and a host of others, the 60 units of housing have been built and vets have moved in to their new homes. The site's architecture, its furnishings and amenities are truly amazing and the veterans who have moved in can't stop talking about how great the development is.

And finally, on January 5th, I had the honor of being voted President of the Board of Supervisors by my colleagues. I spoke about vets in my speech that night and I set a bold goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2016.