“The police said it’s likely an inside job. The [thieves] knew what to take.” -Tom Devlin, Veterans Affairs Office.
Guam – The Guam Office of Veterans Affairs suffered another break-in at the Guam Veterans Cemetery in Piti. And with Veteran’s Day just a few days away, the timing of the robbery could not be any worse.
In fact, Tom Devlin, from the Office of Veterans Affairs says this is the fourth time the cemetery has been robbed.
“The administrator informed the commission members that the maintenance shop at the veterans cemetery was broken into,” recalls Devlin. “And several things were taken: bush cutters, leaf blowers –the normal things that were taken before.”
The robbery occurred a little over a week ago, and according to Devlin, the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for.
“The police said it’s likely an inside job. The [thieves] knew what to take. They’re not taking the large items; they’re taking the smaller items that they can probably sell very quickly…There’s no funding for security. There are no cameras down there. No one goes in there and patrols,” Devlin said.
Devlin attributes the lack of security to the lack of adequate funding. He tells PNC that the Guam Veterans Cemetery and the Guam Office of Veterans Affairs has had the same budget for the last three years.
“I know there’s a money crunch. I realize that. But, if there’s a money crunch, then elected officials regardless of who they are can’t say the veterans are a priority because the money isn’t put [in the Veterans Affairs Office]…how long will the veterans accept that?” warned Devlin.
Twice a year, veterans are lauded and thanked for their service. But Devlin says a simple “thank you” from the government is not enough.
“Don’t thank me for my service. Show me the money, honey,” he retorted. “I think a lot of the veterans might get to that same attitude: don’t call us heroes; don’t thank us for our service, show us the money. Pay us when we get out of the military. When the cemetery is kept well, they have personnel in the cemetery, and they have personnel in the [Veteran’s Affairs] office, that’s how you honor the veterans.”
Devlin is now urging his fellow veterans to call their local lawmakers to issue a complaint.
Meanwhile, Jose San Agustin, the Veterans Affairs Administrator, tells PNC a total of two lawn blowers and six bush cutters were stolen.
The tools, estimated at a little over two thousand dollars have not yet been replaced. San Agustin adds that most of the equipment was brand new.