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Guest Column

Katrina Foley

Supervisor, 2nd District

County of Orange

Welcome home to post 9-11 heroes, we’re here to help 

Americans owe our freedoms to the increasingly small number of volunteers that wear the uniform. Different from previous generations, post 9-11 veterans are the only ones to have gone to war as an all-volunteer force. Though the reservoir of good will for them remains full, post 9-11 veterans bear a special, isolating burden. As the sister of an Iraq War veteran, I understand the costs of combat and the mental fatigue. 

Despite that post 9-11 veterans are the most educated, best trained and most socially and economically diverse fighting force this nation ever sent into battle, nearly half of post 9-11 veterans found readjusting to civilian life difficult compared to only 21% of pre 9-11 veterans. According to the Cost of War Project, a staggering 30,177 post 9-11 veterans committed suicide in the 20 years between September 11, 2001 and June 2021. In addition, 70% of pre 9-11 veterans said they were proud of their service compared to only 58% of post 9-11 veterans reporting feeling that same pride. 

To respond, this year my office, at the request of members of my internal Veterans Advisory Team, initiated an initiative to provide peer-to-peer support for isolated veterans to help prevent suicide. We requested a $600,000 investment from Orange County’s share of the mental health service act dollars that will directly benefit the more than 116,000 veterans living in Orange County. In addition, every day my team works to transition veterans from the street into housing so we can once and for all end veteran homelessness in Orange County. 

We also began our effort to inform the community about the 988 phone number. This is a free call lifeline that provides someone to talk to 24/7. While this program is open to all Americans, it’s of particular benefit to isolated and lonely veterans. 

To honor our heroes and give them the welcome home they never received, I’m hosting a “Welcome Home for post 9-11 Heroes” event, tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. at Heroes Hall in Costa Mesa. The event is free and open to the public. We are partnering with veteran organizations to host a pinning ceremony. If you or someone you know is an OC Veteran who served after September 11, 2001, RSVP with this form so that we can present them with a commemorative lapel pin and a personalized proclamation honoring their wartime service. If you miss the program, please consider signing up and we will mail you a pin.


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