For years, veterans and their families have hoped for a one-stop center to address their needs on Guam. We hope they see such a center before it's too late for ailing veterans.
We are heartened by Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje’s efforts to develop a regional veterans center. The newly elected senator recently requested that the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and the Department of Land Management look for a parcel of public land for the center.
Once that land is identified, Terlaje plans to work with stakeholders to secure funds through public-private partnerships or a combination of local and federal funds for the center, according to a news release from the senator’s office.
“As chairman of the Committee on Veteran and Military Affairs, I feel that this is the perfect time to integrate services, provide a one-stop center for veterans to seek advice on services provided by the Veterans Administration, and have a facility to meet with other veterans that may be struggling with substance abuse, homelessness, and other social problems,” Terlaje stated in the release.
Such a center is long overdue as local veterans have suffered for decades from a lack of easy and quick access to benefits and services. When veterans need certain medical care, they must seek treatment in Hawaii or the U.S. mainland. For some, their health conditions worsened while they made arrangements for the treatment.
In addition, we agree with Terlaje that Guam has the potential to be a regional hub for veterans. Strategically located, Guam is close to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Federated States of Micronesia. The island also will see more infrastructure development as the U.S. military presence builds.
We call on lawmakers to support Terlaje’s efforts because the need to help veterans on Guam and in the region is urgent. Of the veterans who make it home, many have life-altering injuries – whether they are physical or invisible. Some of those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder become addicted to alcohol or drugs and end up behind bars or on the streets.
With so much at stake, our community should stand up for veterans. It’s the least we can do for those who stand watch and keep our nation safe.