OCEANSIDE — More than 500 military veterans filled the new Veterans Association of North County building for a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Red, white and blue banners decorated the walls and spirits were high, despite there being no electricity and unfinished cement floors.
Supervisor Bill Horn, Undersecretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Rocky Chavez and Mayor Jim Wood were among the speakers who thanked military men, women, and their families for their service and sacrifice. Speakers also voiced their support for providing more services to military veterans.
“We all deserve to be recognized for what we’ve done for our country,” Ken Derr, vice president of American Legion Riders, said. “I think back to what all veterans have gone through throughout the years. For anybody joining the service it’s a very noble and honorable thing to do.”
The new veterans building will provide North County veterans a one-stop hook up with support groups and services.
“The building is completely retrofitted inside,” Sandra Fichter, vice president of Veterans Association of North County, said. The 10,000-square-foot building will have a banquet room, conference room, meeting room, bar lounge and electricity after an additional $1 million is raised.
“It’s a one-stop resource center,” Fichter said. “We’re already serving military with hotlines redirected to our homes,” Fichter said.
Technology is also helping veterans find resources. “The biggest issue is information,” Chavez said. A CalVet phone application was recently launched that can instantly connect active and retired military with benefits, services, education opportunities and medical facilities.