LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Lake County Vet Connect was founded two years ago as a project of the United Veterans Council of Lake County and organized by veterans for the sole purpose of providing information, referral to services and assistance to veterans.
The effort was born from the real needs of veterans, who wanted to know what services and benefits were available to them, where to go, who to contact to apply for and receive those services, and how to go about doing it.
With an approximate population of 8,000 to 9,000 veterans residing in Lake County, there is no shortage of need for information, services, and assistance in finding and qualifying for those services.
During the second year of operation, March 2012 through February of this year, Lake County Vet Connect assisted 244 veterans by providing needed information, referrals to services and assistance in identifying which organizations offered the services most needed and in numerous situations assisting these veterans in the process.
Lake County Vet Connect operates two clinics, one in Clearlake, and one in Lakeport enabling them to serve veterans at both ends of the Lake.
Among the 244 veterans who walked through the clinic doors many enrolled in the VA Health Care System. Some of these veterans did not have and could not afford health care insurance and others were looking at the real possibility of their insurance coming to an end.
Still other veterans, upon referral to the Lake County Veterans Service Office, discovered they were eligible for veterans benefits.
A small number of veterans were eligible and qualified for services from local agencies – governmental, private and nonprofit – and 17 veterans were identified as homeless, and received the information and assistance necessary to begin the process of reentering the society they once proudly served.
Chris Taliaferro of the California Employment Development Department reported assisting the 81 veterans referred to his office in Lakeport.
As Lake County Vet Connect begins its third year of service to the veterans of Lake County, it will continue “bridging the gap between veterans and services” by providing information, referral to services and assistance helping veterans explore how to resolve their individual needs.
The two clinics Lake County Vet Connect operates and their schedules follow:
- Second Wednesday of each month, 9 a.m. to noon, American Legion Hall, 14770 Austin Road, Clearlake;
- Third Wednesday of each month, 9 a.m. to noon, Umpqua Bank, 805 11th St., Lakeport, upstairs.
For more information about Lake County Vet Connect call 707-274-9512.
Tom Benton served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He cofounded Sonoma County Vet Connect, and is an advisor to, and participates with, Lake County Vet Connect.