Marines wave to spectators near the USS Midway during a boat parade in San Diego Bay on Veterans Day 2020
Marines wave to spectators near the USS Midway during a parade on San Diego Bay on Veterans Day 2020. Photo by Chris Stone

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of two efforts to help veterans — by hiring more of them to work in government and establishing a resource center in East County.

Supervisor Jim Desmond and Nathan Fletcher proposed hiring more vets. Supervisors directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to develop comprehensive strategies, including:

  • Setting a goal to increase recruitment, retention and outreach efforts to veteran applicants by 2030.
  • Assessing the number of employed veterans, setting aggressive targets for veteran employment levels in the San Diego County workforce, and reporting back to the board within 120 days.
  • Finding ways to foster collaboration among all county groups, departments and programs to increase recruitment, and report back within 120 days.
  • Consult with local stakeholders, nonprofits and advocacy groups that focus veteran employment.
  • Helping veterans access to mental healthcare;.
  • Developing a marketing program tailored for each department to recruit veterans.

Desmond, a Navy veteran, said in a statement that Tuesday’s vote “was a major step towards helping our veterans.”

“San Diego County has the largest concentration of active duty military service members and veterans in the country,” he said. “It is vital to ensure that those who bravely served our country have all the opportunities of employment with the county and I look forward to working alongside fellow veterans for the years to come.”

Fletcher, board chairman and a Marine, said in a statement that veterans “possess skills and experience that are transferable to civilian careers and we need to help them capitalize on their potential.”

Fletcher advocated hiring more veterans during his State of San Diego County speech earlier this year.

According to Fletcher’s office, roughly 7,000 active-duty service members decide to make San Diego County their home after leaving military service.

The county now operates four Offices of Military and Veteran Affairs and Military and Veterans Resource Centers in the South, Central, North Inland, and North Coastal regions.

A separate proposal by Fletcher and Supervisor Joel Anderson will focus on bringing a center to the East County, which is home to one of the nation’s largest veteran populations.

In a statement, Anderson said it was hard for him to think of individuals more deserving than veterans, and “this board action is long overdue.”

Along with his fellow supervisors, Anderson thanked the veteran community their support and the San Diego Veterans Coalition for working with his office on creating a new center.

In terms of creating a vets center, the county Department of Purchasing and Contracting will put out a bid for consultant services.

Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer will identify potential sites and existing county facilities within Anderson’s district, and return with a plan in one year.

Robbins-Meyer will create a pilot program for the new East County facility,  look at expanding other vet centers, seek out program funding and work on strengthening partnerships with other veteran agencies.