Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough praised the members of the National Guard during a speech in Las Vegas on Sunday, saying their service in Afghanistan – and on the internal front to fight the COVID-19 pandemic – has been heroic.
“My message to the guard today can be summed up in two words: Thank you,” said McDonough at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during the 143rd Conference of the United States National Guard Association.
McDonough spoke to hundreds of National Guard members from Nevada and across the country about the work the Department of Veterans Affairs is doing to improve services to veterans. He told those in attendance that the service of all veterans in Afghanistan is valued. At some point during his presentation, he asked dozens of security guards who had served in Afghanistan to stand up, which sparked a long applause as the nation did handles his retreat from the war-torn nation.
“There’s no way I can imagine how you’re feeling right now,” McDonough said to those who served. In fact, I think that no one who has not served in Afghanistan, who has not fought in Afghanistan, who does not believe in Afghanistan can fully understand how you are feeling right now. Nobody can do it if they have not gone the way you did among the Afghan people. “
McDonough said the nation is “deeply, deeply grateful” for all who have served in Afghanistan.
“You have done your duty time and time again with courage and unwavering commitment,” he said.
Evictions, health care
McDonough also said the VA is encouraging evicted veterans to contact their local office. Last week the Supreme Court locked the Biden government to enforce the temporary eviction ban imposed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have support and programming,” said McDonough. “We can help you find additional support if you need an apartment or are in a difficult situation regarding your rent and paying your mortgage.”
McDonough encouraged Las Vegas Valley veterans experiencing a housing crisis to contact the local VA Community Resource and Referral Center at 702-791-9077 during normal business hours. On weekends and evenings you can call 702-706-6089.
This weekend’s Guardian Conference was an opportunity for members to network and learn about new services, technologies, and resources available to them.
Col. Jerome Guerrero, president of the Nevada National Guard Association, said the association is committed to upgrading equipment and technology for members, as well as improving access to health services.
“All of these men and women have civil jobs and not all of them have medical care,” Guerrero said. “One of the statistics out there is that about 15 percent of the men and women in the National Guard don’t have full-time health insurance. One of the things we’re trying to push forward is health care for everyone. “