Ahead of the Veterans University event in Palm Springs, a veteran spoke of the challenges that many veterans face when it comes to getting access to their benefits.
"We're in our shack and a mortar hits. Boom! Goes off. We're in the kill zone, we're in the kill zone," said Iraq War veteran Richard Finn.
For veterans like Finn, the memories of war are not easily forgotten.
"It's just crazy, you know? How we're in a wooden shack and we should have been hit and we we're spared," Finn said.
Finn served in Iraq twice. Once in 2005 and then again in 2008. As a result he was exposed to burn pits.
"They just started burning everything and we inhaled it all. A lot of soldiers. So that's considered the new agent orange. People are starting to file claims about that issue," Finn said.
But once vets like Finn come back home, getting access to the benefits he and so many like him deserve can be a challenge. While on deployment, resources are abundant.
"And then when we come home, it's like, 'here's a briefing, one week briefing and then here are your resources. Good luck," said Finn.
Tomorrow, Finn will attend the Veterans University event at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
"I want to learn how to work on our benefits and then get the resources. Then what I want to do is take that knowledge and share it with other veterans," said Finn.
Finn is now the veterans service director at Smooth Transition in Desert Hot Springs, an accredited post secondary vocational school.
"What we plan on doing is...this station is open for e-benefits and e-benefits is a little complicated. It's a program through the VA where if you have a claim you can file and you have to go through e-benefits. So we're going to have some workshops to walk veterans on how to do their e-benefits," said Finn.
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