Local veteran leaders such as Jeff Stabile have worked for years to get the Santa Clarita Valley a dedicated veterans services officer and they’ve finally done it.
A VSO is sometimes necessary for veterans to process paperwork in order to receive benefits and the SCV has been without a dedicated one for a long time.
There have been some VSOs who have been able to offer their services sporadically, but most of the time veterans have to travel to other cities to have their paperwork processed. Now, veterans in the area don’t have to leave their hometown for this necessity.
“I mean, I’ll tell you — the veterans are just ecstatic the day I sent out that news release,” said Stabile. “I fielded calls all afternoon from veterans saying, ‘When is this happening, what’s going on?’ It’s really just one of the greatest things that’s happened in a long time.”
Starting Monday, the VSO will be available every Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Los Angeles County Community Center located at 26111 Bouquet Canyon Road, Building H1. The center’s phone number is 661-254-0070.
The reason veterans are so ecstatic about this is because almost all claims (tuition, medical, identification fees, debt assistance, etc.) must be done through a VSO. Veterans with disabilities can face challenges when having to travel to Palmdale or L.A. in order to access one.
Stabile said a dedicated VSO in Santa Clarita, something he’s been advocating for some time, happened because of Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth. After touring the SCV Veterans Center about a year ago, she met with Stabile and discussed issues facing the veteran community.
“My dad is a veteran, my brother’s a veteran, and the [Veterans Affairs] has been really critical for my dad who has battled cancer twice from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam,” said Schiavo. “The VA literally saved his life multiple times. So I know how important connecting up with the VA system is.”
Schiavo said shortly after she took office, Stabile once again reached out and reminded her of the issue. Her staff, who she thanked immensely, were able to use the power of her office to connect with L.A. County and secure a dedicated person working for local veterans.
“I can’t tell you how much effort the assemblywoman’s office put into this and got it moving within a week or less. I was really, really amazed,” said Stabile. “The assemblywoman’s office I mean, they called the day after our meeting and said, ‘OK, I’ve placed five calls and worked on this and within four days after that, I had all this information about who’s available and all of a sudden there’s gonna be somebody dedicated on Mondays up there, and it was just great.”
Schiavo said helping veterans was something she ran on and is happy to finally see some of her campaign promises become a reality.
“It’s incredibly meaningful to me. This is exactly what I ran because I want to really be able to deliver for our community and make a difference in our community for folks in their daily lives… It’s a source of pride for our office and for me,” said Schiavo. “We’re just very excited to be able to move the ball forward on this and make sure that veterans in our community are getting connected with the resources and supports that they need to thrive.”
The SCVSC also extended special thanks to Chris Ward, veteran liaison for the office of Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, Jim Zenner, director for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for L.A. County, Keith Niesen, VSO for Department of Military and Veterans Affairs of L.A. County, Alejandro Rocha, squad leader for Veteran Peer Access Network, and Gaby Gurrola, veteran liaison for Schiavo’s office. .