By Emily Sorensen
Poway resident Gary Rossio was recently honored by 2-1-1 San Diego for his work with helping military veterans receive their benefits.
An Air Force veteran himself, Rossio has dedicated himself to working with his fellow veterans, helping them obtain their military benefits and find work. Rossio was honored last June as the 2012 Veteran of the Year by former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
Rossio has been working with 2-1-1 San Diego, a telephone advice line that helps connect people in the community with benefits assistance, health assistance, mental health services and more, helping train phone counselors to assist veterans in getting their military benefits. “I helped train counselors, and tried to link them closer to the veterans’ community,” said Rossio.
Rossio took the 2-1-1 counselors out to military cemeteries and hospitals to give them an “eyeball view” of military benefits and what veterans would need, and trained the counselors how to talk about benefits, help veterans fill out forms and how to direct them to the services they needed. “2-1-1 will help fill out applications for benefits, then hand [the veterans] off to services who handle the next step,” said Rossio.
Rossio said he was glad to be able to help 2-1-1 train. “They’re doing a good job,” said Rossio. “It’s a great organization.” 2-1-1 San Diego now has six counselors available around the clock to help veterans obtain benefits, handling about one thousand calls a month.
Rossio has worked with veterans since 1975, when he went to work in administration for the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. Rossio also worked in various VA medical centers around the country, including La Jolla and San Diego, until he retired from the VA in 2009. After retiring, he continued his work with veterans by co-founding the San Diego Veterans Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works together with other veterans organizations, community service providers and interested professionals to enhance the support of veterans.
The luncheon also honored the Fleet and Family Support Center, which provides a comprehensive support system for veterans, Mental Health Systems, and the United Veterans Council.