Shutdown cancels Palo Alto VA muster, Marine Corps reels


The muster is a Marine tradition going back decades. Every year, it orders members of the independent retired reserve to gather and tell the Marines where they can find them if needed.

At the Palo Alto Veteran's Center, they turned the muster into an opportunity for Marines in need.

Some Marines are concerned for their buddies.

Former Staff Sgt. Eric Serrano of San Jose, who has already served two tours in Iraq, cares so much for the Marine Corps that he's considering re-enlisting.

"It's a new world. It's different. There's, you just have to readjust to the civilian way of life," he said.

And he has buddies going through hard time. So for them, he's a bit angry; as are social workers in the VA hospital in Palo Alto.

"My deep concern is that there's going to be veterans out there struggling," said VA social worker Laura Gomez.

And now, Gomez may not be able to reach them. It's all because of the budget crisis. That comes just as the VA had turned the muster into an opportunity, family event, job fair and more.

"We were having a suicide issue, and suicides are through the roof. Unemployment for veterans is through the roof. The muster addresses all of those issues," said former Marine James Brown.

Brown says he is frustrated by politicians who seemed ready to send troops to war but have now abandoned them. That sentiment is universal among anyone who has seen the effects of battle.

"Oh, I'm definitely not happy, because I'm just worried about the marines who recently come out. They're the ones that need help," said Serrano.

"I believe that the sooner they get treatment, the better that they, we can lessen the symptoms," said Gomez.

"If any of these young Marines end up homeless, or if they end up committing suicide any time after October 26 or before February 8, I believe that the rest of the blame for that rests squarely on the shoulders our political servants. You know, our politicians," said Brown.

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