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Ensuring services for island veterans

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While we have one of the nation's highest per capita military enlistment rates, there continues to be a shortfall in services for this large segment of our community.  The challenges facing local veterans and their families was the focus of a University of Guam conference Monday.

Graduating Masters candidates chose to spotlight veterans for the biennial western pacific conference on public administration and policy solution.  Dean of the CBPA Dr. Annette Santos said, "Their sense is that we've treated them with apprehension and caution, and this conference really serves to bridge the gaps that exist."

The students invited veterans groups, and organized a series of speakers covering topics from finances, to PTSD, to suicide.  Veterans affairs director Jose San Agustin says they appreciate the efforts of the students, and any attention the vets receive helps. He added, "In the past and until now we're still experiencing a lack of those services in certain areas. Some of the top things that are in veterans minds is you know the medical and health services."

He says bringing a full service VA hospital here is a top concern of the vets, but there are many challenges, including Guam's small population.

Meanwhile, Masters candidate Amanda Blas says they also sought to give voice to vets in another way. They helped collect memorabilia that will be put on display in the nation's capitol. Blas stated, "This is actually in conjunction with the congresswoman's office, and we will have some of the stories of our veterans in the library of congress forever, so it's a big endeavor and we are very proud to serve those who have served."

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