This article was written by BenitoLink intern Kinsey Canez
For over five years, Deputy Raymond Aviles has worked to bring more support and aid to veterans in his community. Serving as a correctional deputy at the San Benito County jail, he doesn’t want to wait until veterans come across his department to get them the resources they need—and he’s not going to.
“When I came to San Benito County Jail I noticed that there were a few veterans in custody,” Aviles said. “It struck me that, you know, they’re sitting here and they don’t get any help and assistance.”
He started reaching out to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and was put in contact with someone from Palo Alto who was willing to meet with veterans in custody to talk about how they could be better supported—and help determine what services they needed. This partnership between the San Benito Corrections Department and the Palo Alto VA began in 2016.
But Aviles was determined to make these services available to veterans outside his department and bring them to the wider community.
“I was tired of having to wait for veterans to get arrested so I can assist them in providing some kind of services to them,” he said.
So, after three years of back and forth with the VA, this work is coming to full fruition and to the public on July 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister, where the first veterans and family event is being held.
Mobile units from the Palo Alto VA will be on hand to provide immediate services such as dentistry and medical assistance to local veterans. Referrals for other services that are needed will also be given, Aviles said.
Local agencies like the San Benito County of Health and Human Services Agency will also be there to provide assistance.
Aviles said he hopes the event helps to bring more visibility to the work other local organizations are doing to bring needed services to veterans and create an opportunity to partner with neighboring communities doing the same work.
“My main goal is to have a once a month event for services being provided to our local veterans,” he said.
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