Veterans-day.jpgMore than 100 Bay Area residents attended an event Thursday honoring military veterans at a hospital in San Francisco’s Richmond District, where speakers discussed some concerns that veterans face.

“A lot of veterans don’t know they have benefits,” said Wallace Brown, a retired officer who sang the national anthem at today’s event.

The event was at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center at 4150 Clement St., which serves about 52,000 veterans each year. But they want to do more, according to today’s organizers.

“One of our biggest goals is to do outreach,” said Judi Heary, a spokeswoman for the facility. “Many veterans don’t know that we provide full benefits for life.”

Heary said that among about 23 million veterans across the U.S., only 8 million are utilizing benefits like those offered at the VA medical center.

“We’d like to change that,” she said.

Michael Gerold, who has been using the center for injuries sustained in Afghanistan, said, “I think it’s a perception problem. A lot of people think these centers are only for old white-haired men.”

There are about 148 VA medical centers in the U.S., Heary said, with centers in Palo Alto, Fresno and San Francisco.

“The center here in San Francisco is the number one research program in the entire system,” Healy said, adding that the center is “fully affiliated” with the University of California at San Francisco.

Employees at the San Francisco center expressed today how grateful they were to be giving to the city’s war heroes.

“Even though I don’t interact with the veterans face-to-face, I know that what I do helps them,” said Dennis Lawton, an administrator at the hospital.

Lawton played an electronic keyboard and sang “Let It Be” from the Beatles.

Veterans Day is Thursday and honors all citizens who were enlisted in the U.S. military.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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