The United States veterans in Palau, both Palauans and U.S. citizens, have had their concerns “heard loud and clear,” reported Commander, Task Force West Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson during a press conference with Palau media on Friday.

In several visits from U.S. military and congressional delegations, veterans from the different branches of the U.S. military living in Palau have raised concerns regarding the lack of on-island support for U.S. vets here. 

Admiral Nicholson reported the arrival of a team from the Veterans Administration Office in Manila to meet with veterans here.

“We talked to them specifically about bringing the right kind of veterans benefits advisors that special that are specific to health care, they’re going to come in, and we linked them up with the head of the Palau vets,” said Nicholson.  They will have some meetings here in a couple of weeks, and we hope this is the first step in getting things to where they need to be. We heard loud and clear,” said Nicholson of the concerns raised by the veterans.

The closest US Veterans service is in Guam and the Philippines.  Many veterans returning to Palau have difficulty accessing benefits they are entitled to due to the lack of US Veterans programs here.

Per capita, Palau has more citizens in the U.S. military than any other US State. Most Palauans who are no longer active in the U.S. military cannot return home due to a lack of services, mainly US Veterans’ health services, available to them.

Rear Admiral Nicholson admitted to following up with US VA in Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii and even as far up as the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the needs of U.S. veterans here.

“I think we are making some progress.  I think it’s the first step.  It’s not overwhelming, but …we are trying to act on that as quickly as possible.”

Earlier in October, U.S Congresswoman Wasserman-Schult visited Palau with two other members of Congress.  Wasserman-Schult is the Chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.  During their short visit, the US Congressional Delegation also met with Palau’s veterans.

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