Some 22,270 veterans call Santa Barbara County home. This constitutes almost 5 percent of the county’s population, which is slightly above the statewide percentage of 4.5. According to a 2017 report from the Santa Barbara Foundation, some of the greatest challenges facing Santa Barbara area veterans are:
» Inadequate access to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other healthcare resources, both for physical and mental health.
» Inadequate access to affordable housing.
» A veterans-services landscape that is robust and well-intentioned but fragmented, uncoordinated, and inefficient.
As part of the collaborative work being done in the county to address these challenges, the Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) has joined the Santa Barbara VetNet group with other veteran-serving organizations and is bringing together many of the resources provided by these groups at the Central Library.
Most of Santa Barbara County’s veterans live in the southern areas of the county, including downtown Santa Barbara, making the Central Library an ideal location for veterans to receive resources and connect to available services.
Through the Veterans Connect @ the Library program, SBPL will support the ongoing work of the veteran service organizations and provide an additional access point for veterans and their families to wanted information and resources.
SBPL is hosting a grand opening of the Veterans Connect program, 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Central Library, 40 E Anapamu St.
Community amembers nd veteran-serving organizations are invited to join the Central Library as SBPL brings this program to Santa Barbara. Speakers at the opening include: Jessica Cadiente, library director; Congressman Salud Carbajal; Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo; and County Supervisor Das Williams.
SBPL joins 60 other libraries in the state to provide a Veterans Connect Center. California public libraries, in partnership with California Department of Veterans Affairs and the California State Library, are working to connect veterans and their families to benefits and services for which they are eligible.
Through the Veterans Connect @ Libraries program, libraries, in collaboration with community veteran service organizations, are positively impacting the quality of life for veterans.
In late 2018 the Central Library was awarded a Veterans Connect grant through the California State Library that is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services & Technology Act.
The opening of the program in August is a culmination of months of work of SBPL staff to connect with veteran-serving organizations, enhance the collection with recommended titles for veterans, and make other resources available on site.
Additionally, a Veterans Service Representative has open office hours at the Central Library on the second and fourth Mondays of every month, 1:30-3:30 p.m. A goal of the Veterans Connect program is to provide veteran benefits and local service information to veterans and family members.
Having a Veterans Service Representative on site ensures any individual seeking information is immediately connected to an official representative who can provide accurate information and help them navigate the system. The public is invited to celebrate the grand opening of this community resource center for veterans.
To stay informed, individuals can access the SBPL web calendar with more events, programs, and classes and/or sign-up for the SBPL newsletter in English or Spanish. Visit the Santa Barbara Public Library System online at SBPLibrary.org for information about programs and services. All library programs are free.
— Molly Wetta for city of Santa Barbara.