OCEANSIDE — Dozens of military veterans took part in the first Oceanside Veterans Resource Fair hosted by California State Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) on July 26 at the Veterans Association of North County.
More than a dozen booths were set up to provide veterans and active military resources for jobs, education, medical and financial assistance, to name a few.
Bates, the Senate Republican Leader, started the program where she is from in Orange County when she was first elected. But with such a large military and veteran population in Oceanside, Bates created the event here as a way to engage more of the military population.
In total, there are more than 230,000 veterans in Bates’ district (36). Although the Oceanside event is just in its first year, Bates said she expected between 100 and 200 people to attend.
As time goes on, she plans to increase participation from vets, services and the military to assist with those transitions.
“Those who are not able to travel, this really facilitates opportunities for them,” Bates said of adding the Oceanside event. “This will be something we do again next year.”
One former Coast Guardsman, who asked not to be identified, said he attended to help turn his life around. He’s been bouncing around from job to job, but found the event a useful resource where he could get assistance with either finding a quality job, enrolling in college or getting financial help.
He said it has been a struggle to find housing and a job with a good pay. Additionally, the state is garnishing his wages to the tune of $6,000 per year and he was looking for counsel on how to attack the problem.
He said he doesn’t want to move from the area, so a vocation or paid training is also on the table.
As for Bates, she said one value of the fair is face-to-face connections with resources and services.
“I think that is the value of these,” she added. “Having individuals at the table explaining exactly what they provide and not waiting on the phone. This is connectivity that we are creating here and transitional opportunities for those who just leaving service.”
Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) will host another Veterans Resource Fair on Nov. 10 in Orange County. It is in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior amputee softball team and the City of Mission Viejo at the Saddleback College Baseball Facility, 28000 Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo.