Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki has very well defined goals for his expectations of the VA while he is in office. His most recent effort entailed asking Congress to consider developing jobs packages focusing on those separate from the military in an effort to reduce unemployment levels among veterans.
Sec. Shinseki believes specific legislation focusing on veterans would compliment the other initiatives the VA is undertaking. For example, the VA is attempting to find more federal jobs for veterans. Also, the VA allocated part of its $1 billion in stimulus funds in an attempt to support veteran-owned businesses to go after federal contracts.
The national unemployment rate is at 9.7%. The unemployment rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan was at 14.7% in March. Sec. Shinseki’s theory is by reducing veteran unemployment rates, it will in turn reduce homelessness among veterans: one of Sec. Shinseki’s top priorities.
The VA provides many services to include housing, disability and educational benefits, and health services to over 8 million veterans and their dependents. In response to the growing concern in treating the psychological effects of combat, the VA has hired more mental health staff and created a suicide hotline.
Sec. Shinseki’s overall goal is to change the relationship between the VA and the veterans. Sec. Shinseki wants the VA to play an advocacy role for veterans, not an adversarial role.
The VA is attempting to solve many problems at once. While they are addressing their backlog of disability claims, they are also attempting to help veterans with the post-9/11 GI Bill and making accommodations for the growing number of female veterans. The VA is stretched pretty thin right now, but it is all for the best as long as it works out in the end. Veterans are a deserving group and Sec. Shinseki is one veteran that completely understands and embraces this.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.