Gov. Gavin Newsom urged military veterans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 this week and announced new funding to reduce and prevent homelessness among veterans.
Speaking Wednesday at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Los Angeles, Newsom and a cadre of state and federal officials expressed their support for the state’s 1.6 million veterans and argued that the state should support and acknowledge them every day rather than only on Veterans Day.
Dr. Vito Imbasciani, the secretary of the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, touted that the state has limited COVID-19 exposure through all eight of its veterans homes throughout the pandemic.
“The vaccination rate among our residents – veterans and their spouses – is over 94 percent,” Imbasciani said. “Vaccines and boosters are now very, very easy to get and absolutely vital as we head into winter.”
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, argued that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 would be a proper way to honor the spirit of Veterans Day.
“When we think about veterans, we talk about honoring people who have served to protect others,” he said. “And that’s exactly what each and every one of us can do.”
Newsom and Imbasciani argued that in addition to urging vaccination, the state is working to ensure that its veterans are protected from becoming homeless once they return from deployment.
Newsom noted that the state has committed $25 million in its 2021-2022 budget to support homeless veterans, part of a $22 billion investment in reducing and preventing homelessness.
The state also received a $69,000 grant, Newsom said, to provide supportive services to veterans who are seeking to find permanent housing.
“I’m mindful of what is happening but I’m also more optimistic than I’ve ever been,” Newsom said of the state’s approach to ending homelessness. “You are seeing progress, I am seeing progress, we are witness to progress.”