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American Legion Leader Claims San Francisco Unfriendly To Vets

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A top local American Legion official has accused the San Francisco Board of Trustees of being “veteran unfriendly” for rejecting a proposed job training center for soldiers returning home from war duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ironically, the stalled proposal sought to place the job center in the city’s Veterans Memorial Building.

Roger Dong, chairman of the American Legion War Memorial Commission, was due to make an impassioned appeal to the Board of Trustees on Thursday afternoon to reconsider their Apr. 14 decision.

Dong told CBS San Francisco that city trustees had offered nothing but “excuses” in rejecting the Legion’s request to utilize a vacant room in the building that was last used as an administrative office for then-Mayor Willie Brown after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Dong indicated that the Legion was seeking “no financial assistance from our city government” other than use of the empty room, which he said is sufficiently wired for telephone and Internet connectivity.

Corporations and philanthropists have donated furniture, computers and all the needed equipment for the job center, Dong said. He added that private funding was also obtained to pay for the staff that would provide career counseling to “homebound veterans who face severe obstacles in the current job market.”

The Board of Trustees last month suggested an alternate location for the job center, but Dong said that option would be “complex and costly” because the space would require significant rennovation – and possibly asbestos removal – that could take many months to complete.

Legion officials had hoped to open the career resource center for veterans by July 1, but Dong said the project was now in jeopardy unless the city trustees reverse their position.

Dong said he decided to speak out publicly on the matter with CBS San Francisco in the hopes of rallying support for the project. He urged the public to contact the Mayor’s Office and voice their opinions.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved.)

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