The state of California has 1.9 million residents who are military veterans, and of them, over 52% are over the age of 50. Locally, in San Diego County, there are over 230,000 vets eligible to receive benefits from the programs administered at the local, state, and national level for those with a military service record. Assistance programs offer help with housing, counseling, taxes and health care while programs and services include fitness, social events and organizations, and educational workshops on topics of interest. Let’s explore some of the main resources in the San Diego area for vets and the best ways to unlock those benefits.
The VA San Diego Healthcare System provides by-appointment care for all area veterans. The facility offers both primary and mental health care and works in partnership with the Aspire Center, a 40-bed residential treatment facility for vets in need of support services. The main facility is located in La Jolla at 3350 La Jolla Village Drive right off of I-5.
The San Diego Regional Benefits Center is a helpful contact for surviving spouses and veterans alike. The office can help facilitate the process of accessing available benefits, filing and checking the status of claims, providing transitional and permanent housing options, home loans, and crisis assistance for vets facing dire circumstances like homelessness. The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs in San Diego County is another helpful resource. Established to help vets, dependents, and survivors access their full range of benefits, staff can help with forms, claims, and referrals to other area agencies who have specialized programs for veterans when necessary.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of programs for retired military personnel at a state level. Their online portal guides you to information on topics like education, employment, healthcare, advocacy, housing, and claims. You can easily find service providers and explore the details of available programs through their website.
San Diego hosts nine Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in a 10-mile radius of the city. While they may be known for their social activities, the VFW also provides a number of on-site resources. Service officers are on hand to help veterans and survivors with the application and benefits process through the VA. Through their training, they are knowledgeable on the processes and can advocate on your behalf for no charge, including helping to file, research, and if necessary, appeal a claim.
Socially, there are many opportunities to connect with other vets in the community at the VFW. They provide events throughout the month for vets, their friends, and families like barbecues, karaoke nights, and other gatherings.
Vets, especially men who served our country, are at a higher risk of developing depression and PTSD. The San Diego chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill offers programs and services specific to vets, including support groups, counseling, and suicide prevention programs. Vets who are having suicidal thoughts can also reach out to the suicide prevention hotline toll-free at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 to speak with a counselor who can help.
Veterans Week San Diego, a volunteer group dedicated to honoring veterans each year, produces the San Diego Veterans Parade. The November events features veterans from every service branch, as well as school marching bands, businesses, and volunteer organizations who participate to give back and say thank you for service to the country. For details on how to get involved this year, the parade route, and other frequently asked questions, visit the website.
For more information on the Aid & Attendance Benefit and to learn how it can help pay for assisted living, please visit VeteranAid.org.
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