SAN DIEGO, CA. Congressman Brian Bilbray continues to refuse to meet with a group of veterans who have “camped” outside the door of his local Solana Beach office. About a half dozen members of San Diego Veterans For Peace have staged a vigil that began last Monday, August 18th. The vets want to discuss veterans’ issues with the congressional representative. And they will stay, they say, until Friday. The vigil begins at 9 am and lasts till noon each day.
The vets say they want a meeting during Bilbray’s summer recess — at a date/time agreeable to him – to allow them to apprise him of current veteran opinion on:
- the continuing Iraq Occupation
- funding of veterans health and benefit issues
- our concerns over the possibility of war with Iran.
- his “NO” vote on the new and significantly improved GI Bill
- his “NO” vote on many veteran benefit bills
In the 2007 summer recess, after Mr. Bilbray declined to meet with the vets, they accepted a meeting with his “Veterans Affairs Representative”, a very polite young non-veteran staffer with one month on the job. While he was very gracious, the veterans with many years of service dating back to 1949, believe they deserved more, least an hour of the congressman’s time. This year, they were again referred to his young staffer or to his district director.
The group of six constituent veterans include a career sergeant with the US Air Force (1949-1970), a US Army combat veteran from the Korean conflict, a career Chief Petty Officer with the US Navy (1984-2006), a US Marine Corp officer and combat veteran in Vietnam, a US Coast Guard officer and career US Navy contracting officer (1970-2006), and a US Marine Corps Iraqi War veteran (two tours in Iraq).
On Day #2 of the vigil, Steve Danon, Congressman Bilbray’s Washington DC Chief of Staff, came out and offered the vets coffee, water and access to bathrooms. They briefly discussed why they were there, and how important it is that they get a personal visit with the Congressman (no 25 year old staffers, please, this year). He assured them that Congressman Bilbray would meet with them personally in early October once Congress recessed again on September 27th and he returned to the district, but no firm date/time was established. The vets huddled and decided to continue their camp.
The vets are asking folks to call Congressman Bilbray’s office at (858-350-1150) The vets suggest that you tell the staffer who answers the phone (Mitch, Laura, others) that you are upset about how poorly Congressman Bilbray treats 50th district veterans and veteran’s needs. Second, the vets add, tell the staffer that Congressman Bilbray should meet with the small constituent group from San Diego Veterans For Peace, “camping” outside his office, at his first opportunity.
For more info, contact Gil Field, president of San Diego Veterans For Peace at 858-342-1964 .