Annual Veteran Expo Held in Indio
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
INDIO - There are nearly 130,000 veterans in Riverside County. That's why the 4th annual Veteran Expo was held Saturday to help veterans with a variety of issues.
Vietnam war veteran Patrick Runyon helps youth stay off the streets in his spare time. He says there’s one issue that stands out among veterans in the Coachella Valley and that’s finding a job. "Work. Employment. You won't find a better applicant than a veteran because they already have the team building skills. They know how to assimilate into their employment and they learn how to do the job where they can train new employees,” says Runyon.
Assistant Director of Riverside County Veteran Services Grant Gautsehe agrees and adds the recession is hurting vets. "A lot of it has to do with the economy. I think veterans are very resilient and excellent employees,” says Gautsehe
Hundreds of veterans and their families showed up to the free event to get information on a range of issues from health care, buying a home, employment and legal issues. "We basically are a one-stop shop in helping all veterans with all their benefits and needs. We can help with disability compensation, pension, survivor benefits, burial benefits. Really all of it,” says Gautsehe.
Runyon says veterans have experienced the unexplainable in combat and as a result, some need help when they return to civilian life. "For a soldier that has been in combat, they are going to come home with certain issues that a normal citizen would not have,” says Runyon.
Veteran Services says they helped Riverside County vets with nearly $30 million in benefit assistance last year. Still, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, who had his own booth at the expo, says more should be done for the people that fight for our freedoms. "We know there has been a long backlog of services so I’m doing everything I can to expedite help for any veteran that needs it,” says Nestande. “It's just very important that we show them we're here for them as much as we possibly can because they served us--- they did their job and it's our turn to do our job."
Some veterans, like Runyon, continue to serve-- just in different ways and hope they can have an impact on the future. "What better way than to teach those young people respect, selfless service, personal loyalty. Those types of things help them to be a better citizen,” says Runyon.
For more information on the Riverside County Veteran Services, click here.