Health Library

Vet Connect Makes Benefits Easier for Veterans to Access

Veterans in rural San Diego County can look forward to an expanding network of access points for services and benefits as the County of San Diego works to expand the Vet Connect program.

Vet Connect is a service that allows veterans in rural areas to go to their local library and visit face-to-face with a veterans services representative or use video conferencing to access services and complete paperwork without having to travel to the Military and Veterans Affairs Office in person.

“Vet Connect bridges the gap between the veteran and veterans resources,” said Chairman Bill Horn, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “It brings that service home to the veteran’s neighborhood with no long distance travel required.”

“It makes it so much easier for a veteran to go to a County library, which are all over the region, and be able to connect directly downtown with Veterans Services,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “They can fill out forms and get all kinds of information, and they can stay right in their community, right at the library.”

Vet Connect allows veterans expanded access to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency’s Veterans Services to complete applications for benefits, get referrals for services or have their questions answered.

Currently, County Veterans Services sends representatives to do face-to-face benefits counseling at the Ramona, Rancho San Diego, El Cajon and Pine Valley libraries on select days each month.

The newest innovation allows applications for benefits to be completed through video conferencing or via fax machine at the Julian Library and have the process completed by the time the veteran leaves the library. Vet Connect services are available on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The tele-video program is expected to eventually be rolled out to several back-country library branches including Campo and Borrego Springs.

Chairman Horn declared 2015 the year of the veteran during his State of the County address earlier this year, and the Vet Connect program is a result of requests made by constituents to District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who challenged the Military and Veterans Affairs Office to make services more accessible to veterans in the back-country.

“Through Live Well San Diego, the County is committed to supporting a healthy, safe and thriving community for all residents and we are proud to support our active duty military, veterans, families and survivors any way we can,” said Wil Quintong, director, Military and Veterans Affairs Office.

The County recently opened a Military Veterans Resource Center as part of its new Live Well Center in Escondido. The Live Well Center is a one-stop shop for North County residents to access health and social services and the veterans center located inside makes 14 different community organizations and the County Military and Veteran’s Affairs representatives available for military, veterans and their families.

Besides the benefit assistance programs, the library also has several services for veterans:

  • The Descanso library hosts a monthly support group for backcountry veterans
  • The El Cajon library hosts a “Win at Life!” series for military and veterans families that covers finances, employment and raising a family while deployed.
  • The Alpine library hosts an annual Honor Our Veterans event, taking place this year on Thursday, Nov. 5
  • Multiple library branches invite members of the armed services to read to children and talk about their military experiences through the Local Heroes Story Time program.

Veterans are also eligible for free library cards and County Parks participates in the State of California’s Distinguished Veterans Pass program that allows veterands that qualify to enjoy County Parks and facilties at little or no costs including seven nights of free camping in a one year period and free day use at any County Park.

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