Guam's veteran's registry starting (again) from zero; Local vets complain of slow VA action
Guam Vets Sign Up For Vets Registry With DD 214 Discharge Paper for Reference
Many of several hundred U.S. military veterans gathered at a Guam Community College workshop may have thought they had long since registered as vets with the Guam Veterans Affairs Office. It turns out that's not the case. The list presently stands at 126 of the tens of thousands of veterans known to exist on the island.
And this is a very big deal, since the Guam registry is used to provide evidence in support of requests such as for bigger Guam clinics or a V.A hospital. A more accurate count might justify Guam becoming a regional VA site or to receive more funding to support VA programs on Guam. The U.S. Census has clearly under-counted the number of Guam vets, so it's really up to the Government of Guam to do an accurate job.
So what happened to those previous and publicized vet registry efforts? Guam Community College Student Veteran Association President Rodney Cruz explained what happened.
"It was back in 2014 under John Unpingco's administration [of the Guam Veteran's Affairs Office], they went in to get their count and I believe it was about 24,000. But what happened is that when he left office, with his staff, none of that information was left behind based on information I'm getting." The most recent U.S. Census information put the number of resident Guam vets at about 9,000.
Cruz said the current Guam Vet's Affairs Office is starting an all out effort to fix this problem. "They're going to be starting a village to village outreach, where they go out to reach those veterans."
Vets can register online at the link below. They can upload a DD214 to document their service:
GCC Veterans Assoc. Pres. Rodney Cruz
Guam vets have a couple of big beefs with the Veterans Administration. For the older group, it's recognition and care for the damage they suffered from long ago exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide, For the younger group, it's exposure to toxic fumes from waste pits in battle areas in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cruz said.
"It seems that Agent Orange is the biggest question here and of course, we have some of our younger vets who are talking about exposure to burn pits and those are the major concerns right now."