Guam - Veterans Affairs director John Unpingco defended his staff and his office during a public hearing last night on a pair of bills related to veterans issues.
Bill 135 would increase the number of members serving on the Guam Veterans Commission. The legislation would also initiate efforts toward the establishment of a Guam veterans village which would serve as a one stop veterans services enter. Also heard last night was bill 134 which would mandate the Office of Veterans Affairs establish and maintain an online veterans registry.
Unpingco testified that the registry was a good idea but he needs the manpower and equipment to implement the bill should it become law.
"I'm here today to tell you that a bill although well meaning as it is, it needs the resources with which the person can comply with. Because if you don't give me the resources then the bill becomes just another we'll get to it when we can," he said.
The local VA office currently runs on an annual budget of $300,000. Unpingco says he is short staffed and his office is behind on their power and water bills which could be shutdown at any time. The local VA office runs the Veterans Cemetery and handles all the claims of local veterans. It's estimated there are 15,000 veterans on Guam. He commended his staff of six for doing the best they can with what they have.