New VA bill established to assist post-9/11 veteran caregivers could fall short

On 5 May 2010 President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, Public Law 111-163. The bill, first of its kind, intends to provide direct assistance to veteran families. However, recent press releases indicate that the bill is in distress. Many articles are quick to fault the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the organization missed the 31 January 2011 deadline to start carrying out provisions of the bill, and before that, the 1 November 2010 implementation plan milestone. The VA signed the long-awaited implementation plan on Wednesday 9 February, but the contents of that bill may be falling short of its mark. For instance, only about 10 percent of the intended post-9/11 caregiver population (est. 850) are said to be eligible for assistance.

New benefits – restricted to caregivers of the critically wounded and seriously ill of the post-9/11 veterans – outlined by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, include: monthly stipend (based on the average home healthcare costs in the veterans hometown), health care coverage, travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care), respite care, and mental health services/counseling.

Among those supporting the bill are the following political figures:

  • Sen. Daniel Akaka (HI)
  • Sen. Richard Burr (NC)
  • Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Chairwoman, Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Jeff Miller (FL), Chairman, House Committee on Veteran Affairs

While some of the enhancements are currently available, many will require an issuance of regulations, whereas others will remain unavailable. To date, the VA has given no timeline as to when the services will be available to caregivers. However, under the law, the VA must report to Congress within 2 years about the possibilities of providing the enhanced benefits to all post-9/11 caregivers.

The Warrior Gateway can assist those that are affected by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 by providing veteran caregivers a place to find assistance services located in their hometown. The free-of-charge Warrior Gateway directory currently has over 100 caregiver assistance organizations available for veterans of all eras.

Please feel free to post comments about this blog and suggest other topics you would like to see covered by the Warrior Gateway Government Relations Blog.

Helping Homeless Veterans

Servicemen and servicewomen put their lives on the line to keep American safe; their fight does not always end when they come home.  Soldier On, a non-profit organization is honoring those who serve America by providing shelter to homeless veterans.

On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, Soldier On purchased the Western Massachusetts Regional Police Academy on Westfield Street in Springfield, MA, for $1!  They plan on converting the building into studio apartments for homeless veterans to live.

Soldier On has been helping homeless veterans since 1994.  With time the organization has moved beyond just helping provide shelter, they have set up Veterans Village projects where former homeless veterans are given the chance to own a home.

If you are currently looking for shelter in the Massachusetts area, visit the Warrior Gateway. If you know of other services that provide veteran assistance add them to our Directory.

To view the original article, Editorial: Bay State Honors Pledge to Veterans, click here.

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New Pilot Program to Help Chronically Homeless Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs will pilot a new program in Denver, Colorado and four other cities to help decrease the number of homeless veterans.

The program is funded with a $33 million grant, that will create a 40-bed program for unceasingly homeless veterans over the next five years.

In about 18 months, the Denver program plans to house many veterans.  They have yet to decide on a building where they will provide shelter. The area will also provide therapy and treatment to veterans in the program. Other services available within the residential treatment area will include job skills training, medical and mental health help and assistance with addictions.

“We do not want men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq to find themselves homeless and on the streets,” said Barbara Poppe, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Other cities that plan to be involved in the pilot program are San Diego, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Miami.

If you are currently looking for shelter in the Colorado area, visit the Warrior Gateway. If you know of other services that provide veteran assistance add them to our directory.

To view the original article, Denver gets new pilot program to help chronically homeless veterans, by Colleen O’Connor click here.

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Reintegration Back Into Society Made Easier for Veterans

Adjusting back into society for many veterans is difficult.  Many struggle with not being able to find jobs and sometimes end up homeless.  Two programs are working together to help veterans avoid these problems.

The AACOG (Alamo Area Coalition of Government), out of San Antonio, TX has a house weatherization program that builds and modifies homes to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency.  In combination with the American GI Forum and their “One-Stop” Veteran Service Center, the two provide jobs for veterans, to help in their reintegration process.  The “One-Stop” Veterans Service Center also provides services including: a residential center for homeless veterans, Texas veterans outreach program, and help for disabled veterans.

To help with employment and training services the GI Forum also gets veterans in touch with the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training to help with the process of getting back in the workforce.

If you are currently looking for assistance in San Antonio, visit the Warrior Gateway and search for service organizations in your area.  If you know of any helpful organizations share them with others in our Directory.

To view the original article, Helping Veterans Who Come Home, by Cathy Pasmore, click here.

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Jericho Project: A Blueprint to Aid Homeless Veterans

Jericho Project is a nonprofit that strives to not only end homelessness but also provide individuals with the ability to find their strengths and lead successful lives. The New York-based program combines supportive housing, counseling, family support, job and educational assistance.

Jericho recently launched a Veterans Supportive Apartment Program, housing nearly 200 veterans. The program includes family apartments with easy access to employment and counseling. Jericho’s priorities include increasing permanent supportive housing and expanding veteran’s access to services and employment.

With so many homeless veterans, there is more left to do.  Tori Lyon, Executive Director of Jericho Project said, “The nation’s commitment to its service members, and the families that wait for them, does not end when they return home.”

A federal government’s plan titled Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness aligns with Jericho’s approach. This plan includes offering permanent assistance and creating public and private sector partnerships to make services available to those who need them.

“With Opening Doors, the government has laid out a game plan to help homeless veterans. Now, we’ll need consistent funds and coordinated programs to deliver it,” continued Lyon.

To view the original article, A blue print to aid homeless veteran by Tori Lyon, click here.

If you are looking for services related to housing issues, or homelessness, or employment/training, visit the Warrior Gateway Directory by clicking here.

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