‘Let your voices be heard’

Deputy director, San Joaquin County Veterans Service Office Virginia A. Wimmer, who served in the Air Force, now pilots veterans and their families to the services they need. Photo courtesy of Virginia A. Wimmer

It’s vital for veterans to participate
in the Census; their benefits and
services depend on it

By Allen Pierleoni

The U.S. Census Bureau has something to say to the nation’s veteran community: “Think of the 2020 Census as a mission-critical roll call to make your numbers known. Veterans benefit directly when their communities are counted correctly. Tell other veterans how the Census impacts services they rely on.”
USAF senior master sergeant (retired) and veterans service officer Virginia A. Wimmer would like to emphasize that message. She’s the deputy director of the San Joaquin County Veterans Service Office, which assists thousands of veterans and their family members each year.
“First and foremost, veterans should take part in the Census to be counted,” Wimmer says. “It’s important that our legislators know who we are, where we are and what we need, so they can appropriately allocate funding and resources to the communities where we live.”
There are livelihoods at stake, Wimmer points out. Census data are used to guide the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal tax dollars, with veterans receiving a portion of that in a broad menu of earned benefits and quality-of-life dividends. In a real sense, the Census ultimately funds veteran services, which include pension benefits and employment opportunities.
Pre-pandemic, Wimmer’s office blanketed the county, spreading the word to veterans about the importance of Census participation. It hosted benefits fairs and employment fairs, had a presence at veterans events at VFW and American Legion posts, and visited college and university campuses. Now, with such outreach prohibited, it has turned largely to video and audio conferencing as well as posters.
“Veterans love to tell war stories,” Wimmer says, “but now they need to start telling Census stories. I think more veterans would participate if they heard from a prominent veteran at the front of this. Getting (retired four-star general) Colin Powell as a spokesman would be nice.”
If Wimmer could speak directly to the millions of veterans in California, she would first assure them that the Census does not share personal information, a concern among many veterans, she says. Then she would urge, “Stand up, be counted and let your voices be heard.” •

Learn more:
Complete the census now at my2020census.gov!

About CNC Education Fund 35 Articles
Communities for a New California promotes economic prosperity and community health for residents in the rural areas of California. We bring valley residents together to champion the needs of poor and working-class families through community organizing, integrated leadership development, and mass non-partisan voter engagement. Headquartered in Sacramento, with offices in Fresno, Indio and Merced, our chapters are in constant contact with residents in 13 California counties, from Yolo to Imperial – with an emphasis on the San Joaquin, Imperial and Coachella Valleys. CNC was founded in 2011 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) human rights organization.