Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Our veterans have never failed us, but sometimes we fail them. Adrian Darren Bonar, a U.S. Army Veteran, is a tragic example. After serving three tours of duty in Iraq, he returned home to North County suffering from PTSD. But due to poor consistency of local treatment services, turning to drugs, he was ultimately murdered.
Sadly, his case is not that unusual. VFW statistics from 2019 indicate that the Veteran's Administration system is tracking more than 64,000 veterans with opioid disorders, and this number has more than doubled since 2002. Wait times for mental health services are delaying badly needed care.
In San Diego, one VA clinic stopped accepting new patients, and others have reported wait times of over 25 days. That’s why I introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 17 (AJR 17).
AJR 17 highlights the problems involving mental health and drug abuse suffered by veterans and how they can be curtailed with better resources and proper treatment. AJR 17 calls upon the Biden administration, Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs to take swift action to alleviate the mental health and substance abuse scourges now plaguing those who have served our county.
Making more resources available will take time, but many veterans need help now. The VA has just established a 24/7 crisis line phone number for veterans – Dial 988 and press 1. The hotline connects veterans with caring, qualified responders who can provide immediate support.
There are also many resources available at the state level. CalVET offers benefits and services for veterans and their families ranging from business opportunities, home loans, healthcare and many others. To reach CalVET, go to https://www.calvet.ca.gov/.
When our veterans, like Adrian Bonar, return home, we must step up to protect them.