Veterans Day event to be held in Redwood Bowl
By Paul Mann
Humboldt State University’s Student Veterans Association will inaugurate its annual Veterans Day 5K Run/Walk on Friday, Nov. 11 to raise funds for the university’s Office of Veterans Enrollment and Transition Services (VETS). Participants will depart from Redwood Bowl at 11 a.m.
All local veterans and the general public are invited to join in the first-time fundraiser, which is aimed at shoring up veterans services rolled back by ongoing budget cuts. “Support Our Veterans!” t-shirts will be available and the Student Veterans Association is seeking sponsorships for the event. Sponsor names will be inscribed on the t-shirts. The association can be reached at (707) 826-6274 in the HSU Lower Library, Room 58.
HSU undergraduate and Iraq combat veteran Kevin Miller, President of the Student Veterans Association and a former Marine Corps sergeant, says the local need is great, both on campus and off. Humboldt County has more than 11,000 veterans and some 400 attend HSU, ranking it third in the California State University system for veteran attendance.
Northern California vet numbers in general are grim. The region has the second highest number of homeless veterans, 12,771, and the highest concentration of homeless veterans per capita in the U.S., according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Miller says Humboldt County veteran services are much better than might be expected in view of its rural location, but unmet needs remain substantial. Veterans Upward Bound academic support services and Outward Bound transition services have been lost to funding cuts in recent years. Veterans have also lost a portion of their “break pay,” money that tides them over during routine breaks in the academic year.
The nation’s stubbornly high unemployment, 9.1 percent, coupled with California’s intractable 12.1 percent jobless rate, compounds the impact of the break pay reduction, according to Miller. “The loss of this specific benefit has been absolutely detrimental to veterans, especially those with families, because they do not have a steady income coming in during break periods,” he notes.
In the wake of these setbacks, support from Humboldt State’s VETS unit, the North Coast Veterans Resource Center and the Redwood Vet Center has become more important than ever, Miller says.
A recent survey of the 23-campus California State University system by the Chancellor’s Office shows that HSU offers solid vet services despite a running series of campus-wide annual budget cuts imposed by the state government. Humboldt State scored above average in such areas as financial support, academic support programs and services, veteran-specific services and veteran policies.