Veterans commission criticized; viability questioned

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The changes would make all veterans in attendance and their respective organizations members of the commission upon submission of their applications.

With the resignation of Veterans Commission Chairman Danny Mendiola, it was apparent that a new chairman and officers were needed to keep the Veterans Commission in operation.

But issues such as meeting quorum and having veterans’ memberships certified have ruffled some feathers, bringing up other issues questioning the viability of the organization.

Veterans advocate Tom Devlin made it known what the possibilities moving forward are for the commission.

“We’ve been sitting here years for 15 years and we have a tendency as a group not to follow the laws. We try to twist things around and we try to accommodate. There are certain vet organizations that we tried to remove because they never showed. Now, all of a sudden they want to submit their paperwork. Enough is enough if we can’t get our act together then the governor is probably going to have to take over,” Devlin said.

He added: “But now the decision is going to have to be made today, one way or another. Either we have a commission or we don’t because the commission is under Guam law and the governor needs to be told whether this is a viable commission or not.”

Devlin says that the commission has not had its act together for years and its time to cut to the chase.

Veteran Barry Mead expressed dismay at the idea of the commission being turned over.

“I would propose this … if those in this room want to have a commission that represents veterans, I am not a believer of turning this over to a person who has no clue about veterans or anything else that we go through with the VA or anything else … and I mean the governor,” Mead said.

He added: “Our current director is a veteran who doesn’t have any idea of how to deal with the VA.”

With no confidence in the island’s Maga Haga to lead the commission, Mead says something needs to be done today.

“So if we as veterans want to have a commission and a real voice about what happens to us on this island, then we need to do something today and I have a suggestion to fix it. Otherwise, as Tom said, this has been going on for years and at some point in time, if you beat a dead horse enough it will finally go to its grave,” Mead said.

But it appears that to this day, veterans’ voices are muffled as calls for changes to the laws related to the commission have been sitting idle. In fact, it was indicated that an unidentified senator was provided the changes a year and a half ago but that senator sat on it and never brought it up to the legislature.

“The reason I resigned from adjutant was for exactly pretty much what Tom just said. Chuck Tanner and I sat down at the request of the members and we submitted a suggested change to the law. We presented it to the commission. The commission decided it would be a good idea to send a letter to all veterans organizations on Guam. The problem with that was the letter was never signed or sent out to all the different organizations,” Mead said.

The suggestions for amendments to the law were presented to a number of people including the current Veterans Affairs Director, Fred Bordallo, the legislature as a whole, as well as those who “have the governor’s ear.”

The changes would make all veterans in attendance and their respective organizations members of the commission upon submission of their applications.

Before the commission can again bring their desired amendments to the legislature, new leaders must first be elected. As such, the commission elected Bryan Miranda as chairman, Johnny Atulai as vice chairman, and Henry Manglona as treasurer.

The new commission leaders and veterans are now anticipating a meeting with Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs Robert Wilkie for an opportunity to voice their concerns.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday at Adelup.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.