Congressman Blake Farenthold to host veterans' summit

Johnathan Silver By Johnathan Silver

Aug. 6, 2014 at 6:51 p.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2014 at 11:56 p.m.

Lupe Rendon, 85, saw multiple planes crash, numerous dead bodies and general strife during the Korean War.

But in all those years since, the former control tower operator said only once did a doctor talk with him about suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Health professionals thereafter hadn't mentioned it, he said.

"It's not efficient," he said, adding he's still waiting for new shoes to help with his feet and gait. "It's not reliable."

Though it wasn't always that way, he added, recently, each visit has been a hassle and discouraging.

"They're not very organized," he said. "Every time I go there, there's a new person there. And you have to start over. You don't know what you're gonna be up against."

Rendon's are just a few of the stories of inconsistent service for veterans and poor communication that veterans have been telling about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Congressman Blake Farenthold is holding town hall meetings in his congressional district and Thursday will host a veterans' summit at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Farenthold will listen to constituents' issues, such as extended wait lists, inaccurate records and extended travel for veterans seeking service, which are all aspects of what veterans have identified as issues so far.

Homelessness also is an issue some veterans face, said Kim Pickens of the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition. In many cases, substance abuse, lack of family support and unemployment can lead to homelessness, she said.

Many helpful services require an address for clients, which isn't conducive to helping veterans with other problems in addition to lack of shelter, Pickens said.

"It's hard to get out of the cycle when you're always in crisis mode," she said.

Not only should more government services come their way, but it also needs to be easier to access, Pickens said. Local nonprofits do a good job of helping, but other services veterans need typically require a drive to larger cities, such as San Antonio and Corpus Christi, she said. And that doesn't help people in rural parts of the region, she added.

"If we're that regional hub, we need to have more resources in this area," Pickens said about Victoria.

Rendon advised that health professionals ask veterans serious questions about their states of being.

"Once you do that, you'll find that the veterans will appreciate that better," he said. "Let's go inside and find out what really hurts them."

Such issues shouldn't happen to America's service members, he said.

The federal government has pledged to support the fighters who return home, Farenthold added.

"Veterans put their lives on the line for our freedom," Farenthold said. "We need to keep those promises."

Pickens stressed the importance of town hall meetings such as the one Thursday.

"It's the only way to get a feel for what a lot of people are feeling," she said.



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