Military Appreciation Month:  Our Veterans Resource Center

By Kathie Schey, City Archivist

Huntington Beach has always honored our veterans.  Many of our earliest settlers fought in the Civil War.  A huge annual Grand Army of the Republic Encampment was held here until the 1920s when the last of them passed away. Following World War I, in which nearly as many men from Huntington Beach fought as had been registered voters only a few years before, returned home.  World War II brought returning local soldiers and others who sought opportunities in our warm climate. Others fought in later conflicts, from Korea and Vietnam to the Middle East.  Our honor for each of them is visible in our POW/MIA flag, our well-attended Memorial Day ceremony at Pier Plaza, and the opportunity for comradery or quiet reflection at Patriots Point.  And, of course, the black granite memorial at City Hall, which honors the fallen. Our “Hometown Heroes” program honors those currently serving – their faces proudly posted on city banners, their names familiar to us all.

It is no surprise that when our Central Library’s Senior Staff learned about a California State Library initiative to fund Veterans Resource Centers (VRC) in public libraries, they leaped at the chance to obtain this grant. The selection of Huntington Beach was undoubtedly appropriate. At last count, Huntington Beach was found to be home to the largest per capita concentration of veterans in all of Orange County! In opening our VRC, a partnership with our American Legion Post 133 was born.  Highly active in the community, our Post 133 is one of the longest continuously serving Posts in the country and is only two months younger than the American Legion itself!

Follow this link to see the celebration of our opening!

Having developed the Veterans Resource Center with critical grant funding, the Post now runs it. Under a Memorandum of Agreement, veteran and auxiliary members of Post 133 staff the VRC during specific open hours and offer a host of services. At the VRC, veterans can expect help documenting their service to receive benefits by obtaining their DD214 forms, help with housing, transportation, mental health, and much more! Countless heart-warming stories exist to document the life-changing work these volunteers do!

Our library continues to support their efforts wholeheartedly, offering online guides to services on our website.

Please join us this month in honoring our veterans of all services and those who labor daily to support and sustain them! Reminder - the City's annual Memorial Day Ceremony is Monday, May 27 at 11am at Pier Plaza & is presented by American Legion Post 133.