For many years, efforts to recognize and assist U.S. military veterans living on Guam have been hindered by a simple, but fundamental problem. There are no solid numbers for the veteran population on the island. Official numbers, including from the U.S. Census have been contradictory.
Currently there's yet another effort underway to reach the elusive vets and get a reliable registry count.
Now, Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje and Chairperson of Committee on Military Affairs, Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, have introduced three bills that aim at updating the Guam Veteran Registry and improving veteran outreach efforts in order to better connect veterans and their families to services. The established numbers of veterans on the registry may directly influence the level of funding for services and benefits afforded to the veteran population on island.
Bill 217-34 (COR), 218-34(COR) and 219-34(COR) will authorize government entities that interact on a daily basis with the veteran population to actively support the efforts of the Office of Veteran Affairs in updating the registry and connecting veterans to services. According to Vice Speaker Terlaje, “All three bills aim to boost existing efforts of the government to reach our veterans and ensure increased direct services.”
Bill No. 217-34(COR) mandates all government entities for which a DD214 form is presented by an applicant to qualify for services or benefits, to forward copies of the DD214 form to the Office of Veterans Affairs for the purpose of updating the Guam Veteran Registry.
Bill No. 218-34(COR) authorizes village mayors to offer the listing of veteran status on mayor residential verification forms, to include the collection of veteran demographics in their annual census and to conduct semi-annual veteran outreach within their jurisdiction to update the Guam Veteran Registry and connect veterans and their families to services and activities offered by the Office of Veteran Affairs.
Bill No. 219-34(COR) requires the Department of Revenue & Taxation Motor Vehicle Division and Drivers License and Identification Card Branch to forward copies of veteran DD214 forms presented by applicants as a qualifying document for a benefit or service to the Guam Office of Veteran Affairs for the purpose of updating the Guam Veteran Registry.