County Veterans Forum Unveils New App for Services

Video by Dominic Fulgoni
More than a third of San Diego County’s 3.2 million residents have a connection to the military. The 2016 Veterans Forum, held at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido, focused on connection to services for military veterans.

Hundreds of veterans and military families gathered this morning in Escondido for the County of San Diego 2016 Veterans Forum.

They were there to learn about County programs and resources, commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and celebrate the 241st birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

The County announced it was joining forces with a phone app called VAPP to provide easy access to County resources for military and veterans. The app is operated by Operation Military Family and connects people to urgent services such as food access, shelter and clothing and long-term resources like educational opportunities and health care services.

San Diego County currently has eight resources available through the app:

VAPP is available for download online, or can be found in the County App Center, on Google Play or in the Apple App Store.

The event was hosted by San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Bill Horn and the County Health and Human Services Agency.

Speakers included retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Clint Pearman who is a certified brain injury specialist for the Defense & Veterans Brain Injury Center at Camp Pendleton.

Pearman called traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder the “silent injury” and said that there could be an extremely large population in our community suffering from either affliction.

“We know San Diego has a large population of homeless, and a huge portion of the homeless that have traumatic brain injury issues are military,” Pearman said. “Those who are undiagnosed is probably a lot larger than the actual diagnosed population and that is a public health issue.

“There is a clear and distinct link between that injury and alcoholism, criminality and drug use.”

But there is hope. Camp Pendleton is home to the Intrepid Spirit Center, a cutting-edge multi-disciplinary concussion treatment center that will be the hub of all PTSD and traumatic brain injury treatment in the western United States, according to Pearman.

It currently serves active duty personnel but is expected to be opened up to all veterans in the near future.

Pearman told a story about a marine gunnery sergeant who had been in the service for 15 years, deployed several times and suffered multiple concussions. He was diagnosed as non-deployable.

“In the past, this guy would most likely be on his way out of the service,” said Pearman. “He was sent to the Intrepid Spirit Center and found to have cognitive and memory deficits and he was unable to concentrate.

“But today, because we have an enormous amount of new technology and services, within 30 days (of treatment) he was re-tested, passed all the cognitive and memory tests and was able to deploy with his unit.”

Other speakers gave inspirational talks, spoke about the San Diego Veterans Coalition and presented the Salute to Service Award.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact