This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending several events that honored our men and women in uniform.
On Saturday, April 6, I attended the rededication of Jurupa Valley VFW Post 10267. Post 10267 serves veterans of all military branches and veterans who have served in all of America's armed conflicts. The Post serves a special role as a community social hub. Jurupa Valley residents come to Post 10267 for a number of community events which continues to build strong relationships between veterans and community members. I'm looking forward to returning to VFW Post 10267 soon.
"A Flag for Every Hero" is a nonprofit organization providing and placing flags at Riverside National Cemetery. The organization purchases and places flags on as many gravesites as possible on Memorial Day Weekend (May 25 - 27) and on Veteran's Day, November 11, 2013. I had a chance to discuss this year's volunteer effort with Mr. Brennan Leininger of "A Flag for Every Hero" this past Sunday, April 7 at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino. On Saturday, May 25 I will join Mr. Leininger and other volunteers in placing flags at graves throughout the Riverside National Cemetary to commemorate Memorial Day weekend. If you would like to volunteer to help place flags at the cemetery, please call my Riverside District Office at (951) 680-6750 or e-mail Mr. Altie Holcomb at Altie.Holcomb@sen.ca.gov. I am proud and honored to support Mr. Leininger's efforts to one day honor each and every fallen veteran who is interred at Riverside National Cemetery.
Among many things, my career in the Air Force taught me the importance of service before self. How we treat those who have fought and are fighting every day to protect our freedoms is indicative of what we value as Americans.
This legislative session, I have authored three bills which will increase opportunities for California Veterans:
Senate Bill 276 - Proposes to increase state support of small businesses and Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DVBEs) by ensuring they can compete for large state contracts. Raises the maximum state contract threshold from $250,000 to $500,000 that certified Small Businesses and DVBEs can enter into under a streamlined procurement process.
Senate Bill 297 - California is home to over 2 million veterans, 15% of which have a service connected disability. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, it is projected that 35,000 veterans will return home to California and it is estimated as many as 50% will have service connected disabilities. This bill would increase opportunities for Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DVBEs) to contract with state agencies and create jobs for disabled veterans. Currently, state agencies have a goal to do 3% of their business with DVBEs. SB 297 raises the state's procurement goal to 5%.
Senate Bill 354 - Young veterans are facing immense challenges. Unemployment among veterans ages 18-24 is over 43% in California, far higher than the national average. This bill proposes to better serve veterans as their needs evolve and improve their access to services. California is lagging behind other states in securing support and services for its veterans. This proposed bill directs the California Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a strategy to gather information on the key challenges California's veterans are facing, including employment, access to higher education, criminal justice involvement, and suicide. We need to use this data to improve the design and delivery of services.
It is an honor to serve all residents of Senate District 31 and especially to serve and advocate on behalf of our veterans.
RICHARD D. ROTH
Senator, 31st District