Junior Chamber International Santa Clarita held a veterans resource fair in Hart Park on Sunday, with several vendors representing private organizations and multiple levels of government in attendance to promote their wares and services.
The official website for the event described it as a means to “provide participants with opportunities to build community connection and gain resource information for mental health, educational benefits and disability benefits.”
The event was organized by Veterans Resource Fair Co-Chairs Kari and Jimmy McCoy and Arnold Bryant, the latter two being veterans themselves. The three wanted to educate other veterans about the various benefits that they’re eligible for regarding areas such as disabilities, housing and food.
“We started reaching out to the different organizations that we’ve benefitted from and asked them to be here for other veterans,” Kari McCoy said. “Then they told us about other partnership organizations, and they helped us to learn about who else should be here.”
“My wife and I basically, we had to become private investigators to figure out what benefits were owed to me, because of my time in service and I am a disabled vet,” Jimmy McCoy said. “And the system is really murky. It’s really hard to navigate. And I just wanted to make it easier for the next man up. So now that I have all this information at my disposal, and I’ve got this great volunteer organization, I gotta get back to our community. This is what we do.”
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, had a booth at the fair and was running it with the assistance of her staff. Schiavo, chair of the Veterans and Military Services Committee in the Assembly, said she wanted to share information about state resources for veterans and promote an upcoming hearing at Santa Clarita City Hall on Nov. 7. The hearing will provide an opportunity for city residents to hear state agencies speak about the different programs currently in place to support veterans.
“It’s really wonderful to see the community coming together like this,” Schiavo said. “I think one of the biggest challenges is for people to really know about all the resources that are out there and that there are different ways that they can be supported.”