Over 30 vets gathered yesterday at the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial Building for a
Veterans Day ceremony attended by Congresswoman Lois Capps.
The event, which celebrated the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, included speeches from local veterans and Capps. With an ever-increasing number of veterans reentering society, Capps spent much of her time discussing the G.I. Bill and veterans’ rights.
The ceremony, however, was ultimately in honor of the men and women who have served their country. Retired Air Force Col. Jeffrey Robertson spoke at the event, and with tears in his eyes, remembered servicemen who lost their lives in foreign wars.
“It is the land of the free only because it is the home of the brave,” he said.
On campus, the College Republicans planted thousands of miniature flags along bike paths, social chair Lea Uebelhart said. Uebelhart, a third year political science and business economics major, said the flags announce the arrival of the newly created “Freedom Week.”
“The purpose of the flags is to give notice to Freedom Week, and to symbolize all of the veterans,” Uebelhart said. “We even have a couple veterans in the club, and we wanted to support all the vets, so we put out 3,000 flags across campus. They’ll be left up for the duration of the week.”
Back in Santa Barbara, Capps — who just recently won her re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives — said her presence at the ceremony was a way to connect national politics with local events and veterans in the area.
“I attend these events as a way to give veterans a sort of annual report of what’s going on in the nation’s Capital,” Capps said.
In her speech, the congresswoman spoke of change and the restoration of the G.I Bill. The benefits under the expanded G.I. Bill — which was passed this summer — include a drastic increase in both physical and mental health services, which Capps said are of equal concern.
“Some wounds can be seen, while other are not so visible,” Capps said.
This G.I bill gives veterans the opportunity to attend a public or private college by paying tuition for four years. If they choose to, this benefit can also be transferred to their children or spouse.
“The most important thing is that these service men and women get the opportunity to an education,” Capps said.
She assured the veterans that they were not forgotten, and that “this nation will not fail you.”
Desert Storm veteran and Petty Officer 3rd Class David Cordera — who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — had positive comments about the congresswoman’s speech and presence at the ceremony.
“It’s good that they take the time to inform us veterans about new benefits, because otherwise we could not take advantage of them,” Cordera said.
Following the ceremony, Capps gave an interview in which she expressed her support for the ROTC program at UCSB.
“I am a strong supporter of the ROTC program,” Capps said, “and I believe it is a smart and efficient way to place important, well educated individuals in the Armed Forces and eventually in positions where they can diligently move this country’s military forward in a progressive and good direction.”