Veterans urged to take part in county health survey

The survey's deadline is October.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.- - U.S. military veterans residing in Riverside County are being encouraged to take part in a survey intended to identify what resources may be needed to better serve them.

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez initiated the Riverside County Veterans Health Survey at the end of June, and over the last two weeks, about 400 individuals have filled out the seven-part, 36-question form that's available at
``With over 130,000 veterans residing in Riverside County, we want to 
know what our veterans need in the way of health care, housing, education, access to benefits and mental health services,'' Perez said. ``Our veterans sacrificed much for us, and we owe it to them to help when and where we can.''

The supervisor's chief policy adviser, Tom Freeman, who worked as the county's military affairs commissioner prior to his retirement in early 2015, helped produce the survey, along with U.S. Army veteran Dr. Carl Johnson of the \nonprofit Community Translational Research Institute in Riverside. The production cost was $25,000, and all of the funds were drawn from the Department of Human Resources' budget, according to Freeman.

The questionnaire asks whether respondents were exposed to toxic chemicals, such as Agent Orange, and what general or specific impairments they may have.
There are also questions about diet and exercise, alcohol use and whether a respondent has had mental health challenges, including feelings of depression or anxiety.
The survey endeavors to ascertain whether respondents are utilizing GI Bill education benefits, home loan assistance and Veterans Administration health benefits. One of the sections point out that county residents are entitled to ``comprehensive benefits counseling'' by the county Office of Veterans Services.
Respondents can decline to answer any question with which they're uncomfortable, and they may elect to remain anonymous.
The survey will conclude at the end of October.

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