October 1st Will Mark the One-Year Anniversary of the Government Shutdown
Now is the Time for Congress to Pass the Putting Veterans Funding First Act.
October 1, 2014 will mark a full year since the budget battles created a stalemate that halted the federal government in its tracks, leaving thousands of veterans literally locked out of VA benefits offices. With less than 10 legislative days left for Congress to pass a budget before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, the threat of yet another government shutdown is still a possibility.
Time and again – especially in recent years, we have seen how partisan bickering and political gridlock have threatened the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to meet the needs of our nation’s heroes. The failure of Congress and Presidents to assure sufficient, timely and predictable funding has and will continue to hamper the VA and threaten our promises to the men and women who served unless we act now.
Over the past quarter-century, veterans appropriations bills have been passed on time only three years. For the other 22 years, the VA has had to wait days, weeks and often months before knowing what its funding would be. And it keeps getting worse – over the past four years, veterans appropriations were delayed by an average of 116 days.
In 2009, with strong, bipartisan support, Congress passed and the President signed the historic Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which funds the VA medical care budget one year in advance, thereby shielding VA hospitals and clinics from disruptions caused by unrelated, political budget fights or government shutdowns.
While advance funding kept veterans hospitals and clinics open during the shutdown, other parts of the VA do not have such protection, including information technology, research, construction, claims processing and burials at national cemeteries. As a result, when the government shut down last fall, work stopped on more than 250,000 disability claims awaiting appeals, research projects were threatened, and even burials at national cemeteries were scaled back.
Had the shutdown continued for even a few more weeks, even mandatory obligations of the federal government, including disability compensation and pension payments to veterans and their survivors, would have stopped. More than four million wounded, injured ill and poor veterans rely on these payments – for some, their primary or only source of income.
Fortunately, there is commonsense legislation that would insulate VA and veterans from the harmful effects of future shutdowns or temporary continuing resolutions. The Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013 (H.R. 813, S. 932) is bipartisan legislation that would extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary programs. The bill has been passed out of both chambers’ Veterans’ Affairs Committees, and we urge both the House and Senate leadership to schedule a vote this year either as a stand-alone bill, or as part of a larger package of veterans’ benefits.
It’s time to change how Washington pays for veterans programs by putting veterans funding first. America’s heroes deserve no less.
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October 1st Will Mark the One-Year Anniversary of the Government Shutdown
Recruit Military is hosting a Job fair for veterans. Anyone who has served on active duty, in the National Guard, or in the Reserves is invited to attend this event in order to find a new career.
Recruit Military Oklahoma City area events provide many great career options for veterans and their spouses. The companies attending have hundreds of open positions they are recruiting for, and many more companies will be added in the weeks ahead. Some of the companies are below, and a full listing can be found here.
If you have space in your office, please print and post this flyer for all to see: https://events.recruitmilitary.com/uploads/event/attendee_poster/638/9-4-14_Oklahoma_City__OK_Printable_Flyer_HIres.pdf.
This years (2014) National State Commanders and Adjutants convention was attended by Craig Vance, Richard Marsack, and Danny Oliver. Oklahoma DAV presented some programs that we use to help veterans and a new possibility for a National suicide awareness campaign that Oklahoma DAV will be spearheading. The presentation was well received and we had many positive feedbacks.
Many of you may have heard of the “Yellow Ribbon” program … but some may be confused as to what it refers to. Your confusion is warranted, there are two “Yellow Ribbon” programs, both very different from each other.
There is the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) offered by the Department of Defense for National Guard and Reserve members of the Armed Forces. Through their programs, families are connected to resources through the deployment period and help with reintegration afterwards. You can learn more about YRRP by visiting their website. It’s a very useful program.
Then there is the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Yellow Ribbon program offered by VA allows degree-granting Institutions of Higher Learning in the United States (colleges/universities) to voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund tuition and fee expenses not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill for out-of-state students or those attending a private institution. The institution can contribute a specified dollar amount of those expenses and VA will match the same amount as the institution, not to exceed 50 percent of the difference. Nearly 2,000 institutions are participating in the program for the upcoming 2014 – 2015 academic year.
If you’re a student or know a student searching for a school, we encourage you to visit the GI Bill Comparison Tool. The tool will display whether the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. To get specific information on the level of participation by school, please visit the Yellow Ribbon map. We’ve listed the degree levels, schools, number of students, and maximum contribution for each Yellow Ribbon participating institution in each state.
Hope this clears things up a bit … or perhaps you had never heard of Yellow Ribbon and are now thoroughly confused.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2014
Maloney and Mullin Announce Bipartisan Bill to Reform Veterans Employment Program
Would Help to Lower Wounded Warrior Unemployment Rate Currently at Nearly 18%
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) announced new bipartisan legislation, the Wounded Warrior Employment Improvement Act, to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, the key employment program to help assist, train and find jobs for veterans who have compensable service-connected disabilities. Supported by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and VetsFirst, H.R. 5032 would reduce unemployment among disabled veterans by requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce caseloads, increase enrollment in education programs, and implement a new training program for staff working with wounded warriors.
“The sacrifices of our nation’s disabled service members are simply unmatched. These sacrifices come at an extremely hard price to these individuals, which is why we must do everything we can to ensure the best access to our Veterans’ assistance services. I’m proud to have helped introduce legislation that would make positive reforms to these programs, and help our Wounded Warriors get back into the workforce,” said Representative Markwayne Mullin.
“It’s unacceptable that the brave men and women who sacrifice so much in service to our country are returning home from battle only to struggle to find a job. We must make these commonsense reforms to the VA’s key employment program to support these wounded warriors and ensure our highly skilled veterans secure employment upon their return to civilian life,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney.
“The men and women that volunteer to put their lives in harm’s way to protect the freedoms we enjoy deserve the full attention of the VA when returning home. It is our duty to make sure our veterans are provided the education and training needed in gaining quality employment. I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation come forward,” said Oklahoma State Senator Mark Allen, Vice Chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
“I applaud Congressman Mullin’s efforts at helping our local Wounded Warriors have better access to job opportunities by improving the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. It is important that we find jobs for our brave men and women many of which have lost much protecting our freedoms. I want to thank the Congressman on his leadership and his efforts to pass this legislation,” said Jeff Harris, local McAlester veteran.
“With military careers often cut short by life-altering injuries, it is particularly important that this generation of wounded warriors be afforded the tools, skills, resources, education, and support needed to find their new passion, secure employment, and develop fulfilling careers in ways that matter to them and their families. But, for a variety of reasons, the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation, and Employment Program, which is designed to give disabled veterans the help they need to gain success in the workforce, is too often failing them. WWP supports H.R 5032 which would direct VA to develop an action plan aimed at improving the delivery of effective vocational rehabilitation and employment services to wounded warriors – often critical to these warriors achieving economic empowerment, a key to successful transition and productive lives,” said Bonnie Miller of the Wounded Warrior Project.
“VA must be more responsive to the vocational rehabilitation needs of veterans living with significant disabilities, including PTSD and TBI. Requiring VA to better address workforce management issues and improve counselor training will lead to better employment outcomes for these veterans,” said Heather Ansley, Vice President VetsFirst.
As a recent GAO report identified, it often takes 6 years or more for veterans to achieve success in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. According the Wounded Warrior Project’s most recent survey, the unemployment rate among wounded service members is 17.8%.
The Oklahoma Disabled American Veterans adamantly opposes this bill.
While the intent of this bill may have been honorable; the perception of collocating the Department of Veterans Affairs with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is a direct ‘slap in the face’ to the public image of Veterans who have fought and died for this Country and State. While there are many Veterans who do receive similar services from the Veterans Administration; these services are sought by those who have borne the battle of war and the many unique issues associated with military service. Additionally it appears that the bulk of the cost of this new facility will be paid for on the ‘backs of Oklahoma’s hero’s’. While we agree that the currently facility is outdated and a new facility would be nice….this ‘11th hour’ bill appears ill conceived and the DAV members from all of Oklahoma’s 77 Counties request a NO vote on this bill.
April 29, 2014 we will be in service from 0900-1700 in order to assist our Veterans affected by this disaster. We are still located at We are located at the Quapaw Tribal Wellness Center, 907 Whitebird, Quapaw, OK 74363.
This morning, the Disabled American Veterans, Department of Oklahoma initiated their Disaster Response Initiative in Quapaw, Oklahoma. Our Mobile Service Unit is currently on scene assisting any Veterans effected by this Tornado event.
We will be in service today until 1600. We will update our hours for tomorrow the 29th once they are determined.
We are located at the Quapaw Tribal Wellness Center, 907 Whitebird, Quapaw, OK 74363
Previous versions of the DAV Claims program CSO’s are now obsolete. Oklahoma CSO’s should contact the Department Commander or State Adjutant to make arrangements for distribution of the updated program.