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SCV-area vets have resources, local support

Posted: May 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.

I want to take a moment to respond to the April 20 letter to the editor, “Troops deserve more community support.”

I serve as military and veteran Affairs field representative for Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.
The Santa Clarita Valley is home to several veteran and military organizations that offer assistance to veterans and families of our active troops, and McKeon’s office works closely with all of them.

The American Legion assists veterans in applying for disability claims. The legion is also available to assist spouses and dependents of our active duty troops. The Newhall American Legion is located at 24527 Spruce St., Newhall, CA 91321. The phone number is (661) 259-8507.

To learn more about the American Legion, visit

The Veterans of Foreign Wars also assists veterans in filing for disability benefits, and offers assistance to spouses and dependents of active duty military. The Canyon Country VFW is located at 16208 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA. The phone number is (661) 252-6885. Its website is

The Marine Corps League has several programs for Veterans and their families, such as the Wounded Marines Program, youth physical-fitness program and the Young Marines Program. The Marine Corps League also files disability claims on behalf of veterans. Chris Chandler is the commandant of Marine Corps League Detachment 930 of Antelope Valley, and can be reached at

To learn more about the Marine Corps League, visit
Back to the War Zone is committed to helping raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder and the “fog of war,” which can linger and cloud the mind of the combat veteran long after his war experience has ended. Back to the War Zone offers veterans an innovative and creative type of therapy by returning them to their “war zone.”

This technique has proven successful in helping many combat veterans achieve a sense of closure to their war experience. Dick Jeffrey is currently president of Back to the War Zone and can be reached at
Vietnam Veterans of America advocates on issues important to veterans, seeks full access to quality health care for veterans, support all veterans and families and works hard to serve the community.

Frank LaRosa is president of Vietnam Veterans Chapter 355 and can be reached at
College of the Canyons Office of Veterans Affairs is responsible for nearly 500 Veteran, active duty, reservist and spouse education benefits. The COC veteran office also helps veterans with procuring education plans, and is able to serve as a directory for other veteran benefits. Linda Clark is currently the head VA certifying official at COC and can be reached at (661) 362-3469.

Antelope Valley Veteran Office serves more than 500 Veteran in the same capacity as the COC Veteran Office. Ed Arndt is the VA Certifying Official and can be reached at (661) 722-6342.

Prayer Angels for the Military makes cards, writes letters and prepares care packages for Santa Clarita’s deployed troops. Prayer Angels for the Military also sends cards and other requested items to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Dale and Suzon Gerstel head the Prayer Angels for the Military and can be reached at

In order to learn more about Prayer Angels for the Military, visit
Blue Star Mothers of America is an organization of mothers of active-duty troops. These mothers host care-packaging events and perform outreach to local families of our military. The national Blue Star Mothers of America is currently working on a Homes for Troops project to build homes for wounded troops. There are two chapters of Blue Star Mothers in the Santa Clarita Valley. Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons can be reached at The Santa Clarita

Valley Blue Star Mothers can be reached at

To learn more about the Blue Star Mothers, visit
Vet centers offer transition and coping assistance to veterans, spouses, dependents and parents of our troops and veterans. There are two vet centers that serve Santa Clarita Valley residents. Mike Jackson is the Administrator of the AV Vet Center and can be reached at 661-267-1026. Karl DeVries is the outreach coordinator for the Sepulveda Vet Center, and can be reached at 818-892-9227.

The letter to the editor referenced an initiative sponsored by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden that focuses on employment, education and wellness of military men and women and their families. It also urges citizens to find a way to volunteer to help improve the lives of our military men and women.
As you can see, the above-mentioned organizations have already addressed these issues in our community, therefore McKeon’s office works with these organizations on the same goals as the initiative put forth by the first lady. In order to become active at any of the above-mentioned veteran and military organizations, please contact the organization of your
choice or McKeon’s office.

In addition, McKeon hosts a quarterly Veterans Advisory Group meeting with representatives from local veteran organizations, such as the American Legion, VFW, VA, Vet Center, Marine Corps League, Antelope Valley Veteran Community Action Coalition, Mental Health America, Antelope Valley Veteran Alliance, Back to the War Zone, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Recruiters, Blue Star Mothers, Prayer Angels for the Military, College of the Canyons Veteran Office, Antelope Valley Veteran Office and more.

This level and type of outreach serves as an opportunity to stay in touch with concerns of men and women who have served or are still serving. Each of these groups offers different opportunities to residents to volunteer and show their support for the military and veterans.

The congressman’s website,, includes a wealth of resource information through the Veteran Resource Directory, which aims to assist veterans applying for and accessing their benefits. Under McKeon’s direction, staff has been working on a similar military resource directory to launch in the coming weeks.

His offices work with community colleges in the district on veteran job-placement initiatives. Additionally, some of the local community colleges are now working to implement veteran job-placement programs. And McKeon’s staff members are active participants in this development by researching federal grants available for such programs.

McKeon’s offices are participants in the planning of the San Fernando Valley Veteran Employment Committee’s annual Veteran Job Fair and remain active in the Antelope Valley Veteran Alliance, Antelope Valley Veteran Community Action Coalition and Veteran of Greater Los Angeles.

McKeon has hosted several Veteran events in the recent years to include a veteran educational seminar, veteran claims agent seminar and CAL ACME seminar for educators of veterans; and McKeon is an active member of the L.A. County Army Recruiters Grassroots Advisory Board.

J.D. Kennedy serves as Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s Military and Veteran Affairs field representative.


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