New benefits on the way for local veterans

INDIO, Calif. - Veterans feel the love their country has for them all over the Coachella Valley.

"Golf course, theaters, things like that," Marine Corps vet Wayne Menard said. 

"There are other organizations and restaurants that will give us a discount, like Denny's," American Legion Commander Steve Waggoner said. 

Veterans will soon see a big difference. Riverside County Supervisors approved the creation of a policy letting veterans into county facilities and events -- for free. 

"We don't do nearly enough to those who have given years of their lives in service. There's only one percent of the country who have done that. I think the county can stand to let them go to the fair once," Supervisor John Benoit said. 

Any honorably discharged or retired service member would qualify for "Waive Admissions Involving Veterans"  or WAIVE. 

"I think the Veterans are out there serving their country and it doesn't hurt for the country to help the veterans a little bit," Waggoner said. 

A small token of appreciation that can make a big difference. 

"A lot of people don't know that all their uniforms they pay for. When they get decorations, they pay for their decorations. When you only have a budget based on rank, it eats it up quick," Menard said. 

"Financial need, depending on the veteran and what he has done, some of them have a hard time adjusting because of the stress of coming back," Waggoner said. 

Under waive, veterans who have documents confirming their service would be entitled to free one time annual admission to:

--  The Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival

--  The Edward-Dean Museum & Gardens in Cherry Valley

--  County-operated aquatic facilities

They also will get:

-- free annual watercraft launching privileges at county-operated boat ramps on Memorial Day or Veterans' Day

-- free use of county garages or parking lots at any time

-- free admission for disabled vets to county parks at any time

The really unique part of this is it would let veterans bring up to three guests each year to the Date Festival and Edward-Dean Museum for free as well.  

The county hopes to enact the policy before Veterans' Day on November 11th.

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