CARLSBAD — A squat, off-white building away from the bustle of Canal Street, the Carlsbad Veterans of Foreign Wars post is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding trailers, recognized only by three flags and a tiny sign with “VFW” in thin letters.
So when about 40 people drove to the building Thursday afternoon, the unassuming nature of the structure did little to show how extraordinary they were.
These Carlsbad military veterans, all of whom Don Lairson, a VFW representative, said had participated in some of the most significant events in United States history. After years of dodging bullets, grunting their way through grueling training, and not knowing exactly when political strife would send them overseas, they had finally come to either settle or work in Carlsbad.
And they were all in that building to find out one thing: now back to life as a civilian, what happens next?
A panel including Dagmar Youngberg, local representative of the state Department of Veteran’s Services, and Don Lairson, a VFW officer, answered questions that veterans had about receiving or navigating their benefits.
People started raising their hands and asking questions, many of which were interjected with personal stories and anecdotes about the difficulty of receiving their benefits.
But Lairson said the worries and confusion expressed during the meeting don’t come down to just one issue. He also said there are some benefits that many didn’t even know about.
“The Artesia paper just had a, two months ago, that (oil) refinery gave $10,000 to a charity that was gonna give fallen veterans’ kids college education. Sounds great, doesn’t it? We already do that,” Lairson said.