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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.

Policy Academies Aim to Support Veterans

Veterans Economic Communities Initiative

By Debbie Gregory.

This year, in an effort to promote collaboration and open dialogue among organizations dedicated to the success of transitioning service members, veterans, and their families, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI).

I had the pleasure of attending the Department of Veterans Affairs’ two-Day Veterans Economic Communities Initiative Policy Academy in Orange County, CA. This was the first in a series of “Policy Academies” the VA is hosting around the nation, in collaboration with national and community partners across industries and sectors.

These Policy Academies are an important part of the VECI campaign, as they serve as a forum for interactive training and networking, and provide access to new research for stakeholders who serve the Veteran community. Through VECI Policy Academies, VA is convening local, regional, and national partners across industries and sectors to facilitate and encourage dialog and collaboration.

One of my take-aways from the academy was that community-based efforts have a huge impact on the economic success of veterans. Engaging organizations and individuals in the community for the benefit of transitioning service members, veterans, and their families is crucial. This includes recognizing the value of hiring veterans and military spouses and improving the services, support and guidance to transitioning service members, veterans, and their families.   This is a big part of my motivation in launching Joining Forces California.

While I was extremely impressed by many of the corporate citizens present, I was most impressed by Hilton Worldwide and Apria Healthcare.

Hilton Worldwide’s 12 unique hospitality brands across 4,200 hotels in 93 countries and territories make Hilton Worldwide  the fastest growing global hotel company. Launched in 2013, Hilton’s Operation: Opportunity is a major initiative to provide extensive support to United States military veterans and their families. The initiative has a goal to hire 10,000 veterans at the company by 2018. Additionally, the program allows the donation of millions of Hilton HHonors points that veterans can redeem for free hotel stays while seeking jobs, both within and outside the company.

Apria Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of home healthcare medical equipment and related services, supports our veterans and reservists through an outreach initiative called “Hiring Our Heroes.” Launched in 2014, the purpose of this initiative is to support those who have served our country by offering veterans the opportunity to make a successful transition to civilian life through employment with Apria. By focusing employment outreach and recruitment programs to attract veterans, Apria hopes to bring to its ranks men and women ingrained with qualities that align with Apria’s values, like leadership and a commitment to service excellence and teamwork, to help maintain and improve the quality of life for the company’s patients.

VA Wasted $6 Billion: Military Connection

military connection: waste

By Debbie Gregory.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, a senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs accused his agency of waste, fraud and mismanagement in the way it purchases medical care and supplies.

Jan Frye, the VA’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, wrote a 35-page memo to Secretary Robert McDonald in about the spending. He decided to air the information publicly after his memo went completely unanswered.

“I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws,” Frye wrote.

Frye said that for years, employees at the VA have failed to engage in required competitive bids, or sign contracts that would control costs for supplies in health care services. One of the most egregious methods designed to skirt federal rules is the use of purchase cards for large-scale purchases totaling billions. These purchase cards are normally intended to make it easier to acquire small items conveniently. Instead, employees used the cards to subvert contracting rules, bringing in $1.2 billion in prosthetics that were purchased without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year. Frye said the VA has paid at least $5 billion in fees for specialized procedures, tests and surgeries, which violated federal rules.

Frye was appointed to his VA position on September 4, 2005.  As the Deputy Assistant Secretary of one of the largest acquisition and logistics programs in the Federal government, Mr. Frye is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures for department-wide acquisition and logistics programs supporting all VA facilities

McDonald finally issued a response, thanking Frye for bringing the allegations to his attention and promising the inspector general would examine his claims.

If any evidence of harm is found, the government watchdog will forward the information to the Department of Justice, and criminal charges may follow. But in getting the last dig in, McDonald planted responsibility for the scandal on Frye’s shoulders, saying, “It’s Jan’s responsibility to fix it.”

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: VA Wasted $6 Billion: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New Interactive Tool for Searching VA Careers

Atlanta-VAMC

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is making it easier to connect Veterans to their jobs. A new online interactive map directs job seekers to VA careers in their desired area, with just a scroll of their mouse.

The VA Careers homepage at www.VACareers.VA.gov provides anyone interested in employment at the VA with a wealth of information. The site is dedicated to recruiting the best employees for facilities that serve and care for our nation’s Veterans. Additionally, there are helpful resources, including career information, employee testimonials, links to the blog, and information about hiring Veterans. The site also features a chat function for employment and career questions for prospective applicants.

Browsing the VA’s career opportunities is a breeze with the interactive map, which shows current openings in all fifty states and in American territories. Users can simply scroll in or out on the map to find opportunities in or near particular locations where they live or desire to work. The map shows different VA locations that users can click on and be given a list of openings at that facility. Each position features a job description and a link to directly apply .

Users can also search for openings on the interactive map based on keywords, job type or location. There is even a “Draw” function that allows users to shade in a specific area with multiple VA locations.

The VA Careers Homepage and its interactive map are a testament to how the VA is innovating and pioneering methods to link Veterans to services. For more information about VA jobs and to use the interactive map, visit www.VACareers.va.gov. Or to search for additional jobs for Veterans, visit our Jobs Page.

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: New Interactive Tool for Searching VA Careers: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA to Upgrade Claims Process: By Debbie Gregory

VA claimsIn an effort to better serve Veterans and their families, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launch of a new uniformed disability claims form that will take place next year.

It used to be that a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a specified form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper, which caused delays due to missing information.

By standardizing the process that Veterans use to file claims and initiate appeals, the VA hopes to make the process easier for Veterans and survivors. The new standardized forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which in the past has led to insufficient information or proof of eligibility. Applications were denied or sent back to the applicant for more information or correction. This laborious process has done much to tie up the system, as well as delay benefits for deserving Veterans.

The standardized form for all disability claims can more efficiently identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This should allow the VA to rapidly proceed to the next step in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process. Speeding up this part of the process will save administrative processing time and expedite the delivery of earned benefits to Veterans.

“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

The new process will also include standardization of the informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” form, which gives applicants one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence in order to support the claim, while preserving an effective date of claim.

The VA’s new standardized forms and upgraded process are scheduled to go into effect in March of 2015.

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: VA to Upgrade Claims Process: By Debbie Gregory