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Moving in the Right Direction to Reduce Veteran Homelessness

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By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans are homeless for different reasons and have different needs, but one thing that every homeless veteran needs is a home. Because of veterans’ military service, this population is at higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both of which have been found to be among the most substantial risk factors for homelessness

No veteran should be without a place to call home. Those who have risked their lives for our freedom should not come home and be forced to sleep on the streets.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. Much of the success can be attributed in part to the effectiveness of the HUD-VASH Program.

Although that is a great statistic, as of January of this year, there were still approximately 13,000 homeless veterans living on the streets, with about 50% of those living in just two states: California and Florida.

Homeless veterans  or veterans at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Resource and Referral Center where VA staff are ready to help.

Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.

Explore va.gov/homeless to learn about VA programs for veterans who are homeless and share that information with others.

Additionally, CalVet is addressing California’s veteran homelessness by working with various government and non-government agencies and organizations, throughout the state, to provide advocacy and services needed by veterans who are homeless or at risk. To find housing assistance programs available in the area, call (800) 952-5626 or (800) 221-8998 (outside California).

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

CA Governor Appoints New CALVET Secretary: Military Connection

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By Debbie Gregory.

On September 18th, California Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of the new secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). Colonel Vito Imbasciani, a 69-year-old Los Angeles urologic surgeon and Kaiser Permanente executive, is poised to fill the position left vacant by the previous acting secretary, Debbie Endsley.

Endsley was appointed acting secretary of CalVet in January, 2015. Endsley had replaced Peter J. Gravett upon his retirement.

Colonel Imbasciani is president-elect of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, and a member of the California Medical Association Board of Trustees and the California Association of Physician Groups Board of Directors. He has also served as the director of government relations at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group since 2004.

He was the state surgeon for the California Army National Guard from 2006 to 2014, and also served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1986 to 2014.

Colonel Imbasciani earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Vermont. In addition, he holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in musicology from Cornell University. He also speaks multiple languages, including Spanish, French, German and Italian.

A long time LGBT supporter, Colonel Imbasciani served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but he was always working as an activist to repeal the policy. He badgered the staff of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “to stand up to the generals who didn’t want any part of ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” He also approached every member of Congress on the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, through their staff members, “giving them my story and sort of tantalizing them with the willingness to appear before Congress under my constitutional right as a solider to redress grievances. And to let them know the difficulties of being a gay man in uniform and the terrible loss of talent and the terrible expense that the military has to go through in replacing these highly qualified [experts].”

Colonel Imbasciani’s appointment to the position requires confirmation by the state Senate.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Gov. Brown Appoints New CalVet Secretary

Calvet Secretary

On January 9, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Debbie Endsley as acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet).  Endsley will be replacing Peter J. Gravett, who is retiring after four years in the position.

Endsley is the daughter of a Veteran, and the wife of a U.S. Marine. She served as a consultant for the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 2012, and for the CalHR Project from 2011 to 2012. Endsley was also a director at the California Department of Personnel Administration from 2009 to 2011, where she also served in several other positions from 1998 to 2011, including chief deputy director and chief of the benefits division.

Gravett, a retired Major General, has more than 40 years of combined military service in the U.S. Army and the California Army National Guard. He was the first African-American to become a division commander in its 225 year existence. Gravett served as commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division from 1999-2002. He retired from the National Guard in 2002.

Gravett also worked for more than 22 years with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He was awarded the LAPD’s Medal of Valor for saving the life of a teenage boy who had been attacked by a mob outside the L.A. Coliseum.

Governor Brown appointed Gravett to his cabinet as Secretary of CalVet on April 29, 2011. Gravett’s retirement comes after four years of exceptional service to California’s community of nearly two million Veterans and their families.

On January 13, 2015, Endsley was sworn in by Gravett during a ceremony at CalVet’s Sacramento headquarters.

We at Military Connection would like to thank General Gravett for his years of stalwart leadership, and we wish him well in his retirement. We would also like to congratulate Mrs. Endsley on her appointment, and look forward to her tenure of leadership for the Veterans of California. We also look forward to a continued relationship between Calvet and Military Connection.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Comnection: Gov. Brown Appoints New CalVet Secretary: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: CalVet Job Fair: By Debbie Gregory

CalVet job fair

The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has announced a job fair on January 21, 2015 at the West Los Angeles Veterans Home.

CalVet is launching their “Hiring Blitz” in preparation for the immediate opening of their Skilled Nursing Unit at the CalVet West Los Angeles Veterans Home. The purpose of the job fair will be to hire multiple nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), a Nursing Supervisor, an Activities Coordinator, a Social Worker, plus several clerical, food service, custodial and other positions needed at the Veterans Home.

“We’re looking for compassionate individuals who care about our Veterans,” said Tom Bucci, the Administrator of the CalVet West Los Angeles Veterans Home. “Our goal is filling our beds in our home as soon as we hire the professional and caring staff we need.”

Both Veterans and non-Veterans are welcome to attend the job fair. Those in attendance will receive a one-stop opportunity to speak with CalVet Human Resources staff, learn about how to get a state job, and what exams are necessary to establish application eligibility for state service employment.

Veterans’ preference can be applied to help Veterans qualify for state examinations. Any Veteran, Veteran spouse, widow or widower, or spouse of a 100-percent disabled Veteran who achieves a passing score on an entrance examination will be eligible to apply for employment within that job classification. For more information about Veterans’ preference, please go to: https://jobs.ca.gov/job/veteransinformation.

This “Hiring Blitz” will be held from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on January 21, 2015 at the West Los Angeles Veterans Home, located at 11500 Nimitz Avenue, Los Angeles, 90049.

CalVet is also hiring statewide for additional home locations.

“We have job openings throughout our eight long-term care homes,” said the Undersecretary of Veterans Homes, Diane Vanderpot. “We are particularly in need of nurses, therapists, and other clinical staff. In the coming months, you will see CalVet staff attending community job fairs and Veterans resource fairs recruiting for our homes.”

In addition to West LA, CalVet operates Veterans Homes in Barstow, Chula Vista, Fresno, Lancaster, Redding, Ventura, and Yountville. All of these facilities are looking to hire staff. To learn more about CalVet exams and jobs, please visit their new, award-winning website: www.calvet.ca.gov/jobs

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: CalVet Job Fair: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: CalVet Website Recognized: By Debbie Gregory

CalVet websiteOn October 9, 2014, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) announced that their recently overhauled website received a Digital Government Achievement Award from the Center for Digital Government. The center issues annual awards in an effort to recognize exceptional city, county, state, federal, and international government websites and digital projects.

CalVet launched their revamped website in March, 2014. Improvements to the site included detailed information about state and federal benefits, as well as location-specific local services that are available to California’s Veterans and their families. The site even provides direct links for Veterans to apply for programs online.

The myCalvet site enables Veterans to easily navigate the technology to access their service-earned benefits. The web site provides CalVet with the opportunity to combine existing databases. The site also provides CalVet a platform for information exchanges with other federal and state agencies, as part of an inter-agency effort to provide the most holistic and efficient service to Veterans and their families.

“Our new site is much more user-friendly and intuitive,” CalVet Deputy Secretary Veterans Affairs, Keith Boylan, said.  “Our myCalVet feature allows our Veterans, Veteran family members and Veteran stakeholders to create a secure, personal profile. The next time the user logs onto our site, the information pushed to them is based on their profile and interests.”

The myCalVet tool is one of many current CalVet efforts designed to increase the number of California Veterans and family members that are connected to the benefits they have earned through their military service.

CalVet earned their award in the “Driving Digital Government State government” category. Other winners in that same category were Access Health CT (Connecticut’s Online Insurance Marketplace); and the California Department of Public Health (Health Information Exchange Gateway.)

To visit the CalVet web site and create your own myCalVet profile, go to www.calvet.ca.gov.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: CalVet Website Recognized:By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: CA Gov. Signs 21 Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

CA LawsThis week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a total of 21 bills that directly affect active military, Veterans and their families; proving that California is a Veteran-friendly state.

The signed bills include:

AB 13 – Requires the California Community College and the California State University systems to update their in-state tuition rate policies to comply with the federal Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 and state law. Requests these updates of the University of California as well.

AB 186 – Requires the Department of Consumer Affairs licensing entities to provide eligible military spouses and domestic partners licensed in another state with a 12-month temporary license to practice their profession in California.

AB 585 – Requires the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to develop a prioritized list of uses for unused or underutilized nonresidential real property it owns.

AB 614 – Ensures that Veterans with a 70% or more service disability, who are receiving care in a Veterans home, shall have their accounts deemed paid in full by the money paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

AB 919 – Permits Veterans who are itinerant vendors to receive a refund of sales taxes paid to the Board of Equalization between April 1, 2002 and April 1, 2010.

AB 935 – Allows Veterans to apply for a driver license or identification card featuring a “Veteran” designation.

AB 1397 – Requires the California Department of Human Resources to collect and report on data regarding the Veterans preference system in state hiring.

AB 1453 – Requires CalVet to cooperate with local government bodies in Orange County to design, construct and equip a state-owned and operated Southern California Veterans Cemetery in the City of Irvine, and establish eligibility for interment.

AB 1509 – Requires CalVet to develop a transition assistance program for Veterans who have been discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or the National Guard of any state.

AB 1518 – Authorizes the California National Guard Adjutant General to receive federal funding to implement a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.

AB 1589 – Requires elections officials to arrange electronic delivery of a ballot to a military or overseas voter who makes a standing request for all elections, eliminating the requirement that the individuals renew their email address every two years.

AB 1821 – Establishes the Medical Foster Home Pilot Program and authorizes USDVA facilities to create a medical foster home not subject to licensure or regulation as a residential care facility for the elderly.

AB 2215 – Allows a Veteran’s family or legal representatives to file a copy of their military discharge document with a county recorder without the consent of the Veteran.

AB 2263 – Authorizes Veterans service organizations to volunteer as a Veterans service advocate at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities.

AB 2664 – Transfers all funds in the California Military Family Relief Fund to the California Military Department Support Fund.

SB 842 – Requires the California Department of Transportation to construct directional signs on state highways for each Veterans home in the state.

SB 1110 – Requires the court to inform active duty or Veteran status defendants of restorative relief rights available to them and requires the Judicial Council to include information about the provisions in its military service form.

SB 1113 – Extends the statute of limitations for a Veteran with a 100% service disability to claim a disabled Veteran property tax exemption refund from four to eight years.

SB 1226 – Expedites the Department of Consumer Affairs boards and bureaus’ initial licensure process for veteran applicants who were active duty and stationed in California and authorizes prospective proprietary private security officers to submit verification of military training in lieu of a course in security officer skills.

SB 1227 – Authorizes a court to create a diversion program for active duty military personnel or Veterans who commit misdemeanors when they are suffering from service-related trauma or substance abuse.

SB 1440 – Requires that non-veteran spouses living in the Veterans Homes of California pay the same fees as veteran residents.

Click the links for each legislation and read how they benefit you!

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: CA Gov. Signs 21 Veteran Bills: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: LA Vet Home Gets Iconic Gifts: By Debbie Gregory

Phil SternThe residents of the Veterans Home of California, West Los Angeles are getting an amazing gift from one of their own. Phil Stern, WWII Veteran, Award winning photojournalist, and capturer of iconic images, has donated 95 of his photographs to the facility.

Stern was already a working photographer in New York City when the United States entered WWII. Stern enlisted in the Army as a combat correspondent. Stern volunteered for the 1st Ranger Battalion, becoming one of the heralded “Darby’s Rangers.”

Staff Sgt. Stern performed his service to the country by capturing the images of American soldiers during their moments of peril, fortitude and triumph. As a Ranger in North Africa, Stern’s images from the middle of the fierce fighting earned him a reputation for bravery, even among soldiers and other combat correspondents. Staff Sgt. Stern became a “Purple Heart Cameraman” when he was wounded in North Africa. Being a Ranger, Stern attempted to rejoin his unit, but the Army discharged him because of his injuries. Stern worked for Stars and Stripes for the remainder of WWII.

After the war, Stern relocated to Southern California and began working as a photographer for magazines such as Look, Life and Colliers. Stern also worked as a cameraman for feature films in Hollywood. His winning personality, talent as photographer, and Ranger spirit endeared him to Hollywood’s elite.

Stern took some of the most iconic photographs of the biggest stars of Hollywood during the golden age of film. Stern’s images of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and John Wayne are some of the most recognized photographs throughout the world.

Stern is now a resident of the Veterans Home of California– West Los Angeles. His gift, as well as the number of photographs, are in honor of the Veteran’s 95th birthday.

On Saturday, September 6, 2014 at the Veterans Home of California– West Los Angeles Stern’s photography will be unveiled at a birthday celebration. Special guest speakers, Director Brett Ratner and Gisele Schmidt from the Fahey/Klein Gallery, will help honor Stern’s remarkable career.

Also at the celebration, a trailer of “Phil Stern: Eyewitness,” a documentary of his life currently in production, will be on view along with two screenings of the 50-minute Italian documentary “Phil Stern: Sicily 1943, The War and The Soul” produced for the 70th anniversary of the Sicily Invasion in 2013.

Other guests expected to attend include several descendants of the elite fighting unit, Darby’s Rangers. All of the 95 donated photographs will be displayed throughout the Veterans Home during the celebration and will remain as part of a permanent gallery.

The event is being sponsored by Phil Stern, the Veterans Home of California, West Los Angeles and the West Los Angeles Veterans Home Support Foundation.

“This is an amazing gift to the residents of the Veterans Home of California – West Los Angeles from one of their own,” said Coby Petersen, Deputy Secretary, Veterans Homes of California.  “Phil Stern’s 60-year career provides an extraordinary look back at a distinctive time in American cultural history.  We are honored to have this magnificent collection grace our walls.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: LA Vet Home Gets Iconic Gifts: By Debbie Gregory