The Guam Veterans Center is reaching out to veterans in the CNMI to register for their services to help build capacity on the island, which would help justify the need for a full-time staff who would cater to the needs of the islands’ veterans.
As part of this effort, the Guam Veterans Center held a registration drive at the VA Outreach Clinic at the Marina Heights Business Park in Garapan last Monday to obtain a fuller listing of veterans in the CNMI.
“The long-term goal is to increase the number of veterans that are registered for the Vet Center services to build capacity here in the CNMI,” said GVC’s Dr. Edward L. Santos. “We would like, in the future, to develop a position for a staff member, a readjustment counselor, to be able to be here full-time for the Vet Center. The first step is to demonstrate the need and to get more services out there.”
The GVC team comes to Saipan once a month to provide a variety of services for the CNMI’s veterans, including counseling, readjustment services, education and outreach, assistance for applying for Veterans Affairs benefits and referrals to medical services, employment referrals, other community resources.
Santos recognizes that coming to Saipan once a month is not enough, and would also not get the number of registered veterans to justify the need for the position. The more the veterans utilize the services, especially at the Veterans Center, the more the position can be justified, he said.
“We’ve got to step it up because seeing eight veterans a day or once a month, is never going to get to the number that we need to justify the position,” Santos said, adding that they would add time for the veterans to register.
While registered in the CNMI, veterans can be provided services from Guam through video, phone, or email. There are counselors in Guam who could provide support to CNMI veterans once they are registered.
“It important not to lose the momentum. We have talked to [Delegate Kilili C.] Sablan’s office and they understand the efforts to develop the [Community-Based Outpatient Clinics] and the efforts to get the Vet Center here. But, we build a position first and then from there, eventually expand it,” Santos explained.
In the meantime, while the process to build that GVC capacity in the CNMI is ongoing, veterans on the islands can contact the GVC office at (671) 472-7161.