Been Down So Long
Chapter Two - Page 3
VRC, which offers a host of housing, job training and behavioral health treatment and other programs, served about 4,000 veterans in 2012 and expects to serve 6,000 next year with two new offices opening soon in Chico and Carson City, Nev. Of the 4,000 veterans served, 62 percent had disabilities, including psychological problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and drug or alcohol dependency, and 39 percent had no income at the time they sought help.
Cameron has “a passion for making things right for veterans,” Bingham said. Demand for services is growing, he said, noting that 500 people came to the county Veterans Service Office on Westwind Boulevard in August, a record number.
Cameron, a Cloverdale resident, drives 3,500 miles a month visiting VRC’s offices, spread from Eureka and Redding to Menlo Park and Santa Cruz, and Sacramento, where he is well known in the state Capitol’s hallways. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, a Vietnam combat veteran, called Cameron “an American hero.”
“He understands that no one who has ever fought for our nation in the Armed Forces should have to fight for a job, housing or health care when they return to civilian life,” Thompson said. “Our country and state are stronger because of Peter’s work.”
Cameron remembers that Thompson, as the North Coast’s state senator, helped his organization get a house in Eureka that is still a 12-bed veterans housing facility. “He even came down and helped us paint the walls,” Cameron said.
Veterans Resource Centers is still in a growth mode, about to open new offices in Chico and Carson City, Nev. Vietnam veterans in the 1970s “just wanted to get back to their lives, their families,” Cameron said, and that holds true for today’s Iraq and Afghanistan vets. “I take satisfaction from this work every day,” he said, and retirement is not an option. “There’s too much work to do,” he said.