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Veterans concerned with status of agency

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Today America celebrates its veterans, but some vets here on Guam have concerns they say are being overlooked. KUAM News sat down with one man who says the government is not doing all it can for the men and women who risked their lives for this country.

Art Mesa is a proud veteran, but he is not proud of the way the Veterans Affairs Office is funded locally. He says the veteran community brought in $63 million in federal funds in 2009 through benefits, home loans and other compensations. "Those funds generate a lot of taxes those taxes are what the Legislature uses for appropriations in our community to get things done," he said. "But yet the Legislature has a hard time funding the needs of the veterans. Currently out of expenditures we are probably getting about $400,000, I would estimate, and it's not enough." 

Not enough, he says, to maintain Veterans Cemetery and run the VA Office. He says the lack of funding sends a strong message to vets, specifically, "That the legislators don't care that the message that it is sending."

But Mesa admits the change needs to start with the veterans themselves.  "We have a veterans council run out of Congresswoman [Madeleine] Bordallo's office and we have a veterans commission that is made up of all of the commanders of the various service organizations. These groups to me are the leaders and they should approach the legislators to do something about it," he explained.

"Until the vets get together and demand these issues be addressed, nothing is going to change."

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