The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made the care and support of military families one of our highest priorities. We can never do enough for the families of the men and women, who protect and defend our nation, and we are committed to improving and expanding our services throughout a broad range of programs. More often than not, military families are the first line of support and care for our Veterans and VA stands ready to assist them in that endeavor.
In order to support our military and Veteran families through the White House's Policy Committee on Military and Veteran Families, we have identified six major areas where VA can help the most, and have developed programs and robust resources to assist them:
VA's mission is crucial to our Veterans and their families As President Lincoln reminded us 146 years ago-we care for those who have "borne the battle" and for their spouses and orphans.
We provide health care, disability benefits, pensions, home loans, life insurance, and educational assistance, and run the Nation's largest cemetery system, which has outperformed every other enterprise in this country for the past decade-public or private, profit or non-profit.
At present, about 8.3 million Veterans receive VA medical care and benefits. But another 22 million Veterans and 35 million spouses and adult children, who do not receive such care and benefits, still see themselves as Veterans or parts of Veterans' families. They expect us to get things right for the Veterans and families we serve.
May God bless all who serve and their families, and may God bless America.
Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
Integrated Mental Health Strategy: DOD and the VA will implement a multi-year Integrated Mental Health Strategy to promote early recognition of mental health conditions. This will deliver effective treatments and expand preventive services for Active Duty and Reserve Component members, Veterans, and their families. This includes helping families identify service members' and Veterans' needs; integration of mental health services into primary care; and expanding VA's Readjustment Counseling Service to service members and their families.
Family Caregiver Support: VA will develop new and expand existing family caregiver support programs for family caregivers of seriously ill or injured service members and Veterans. VA Caregiver Support Coordinators have been designated to provide support and assistance to family caregivers, serve as experts on caregiving issues, and assure support is implemented. VA is also expanding the availability of family counseling and caregiver support and training programs. The VA is also developing a comprehensive caregiver Web site and establishing a toll-free Caregiver helpline.
VA, in collaboration with HHS and DOD, will leverage partnerships with professional associations and academic institutions to ensure military culture is included in core curricula and published standards. Among others, these include the American Psychological Association and the Council on Social Work Education, which have implemented standards of practice for their members who work with military and Veteran families.
Ending Homelessness among Veterans: VA's goal is to end Veteran's homelessness by 2015. In partnership with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), VA will continue working to reduce the number of homeless Veterans and further, ending Veteran's homeless¬ness completely. VA will continue to reach out to homeless Veterans through a National Registry for Homeless Veterans and a National Homeless Hotline (1-877-4AID VET).
Homelessness Prevention Demonstration project : As part of its 3-year Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration project, the HUD, Department of Labor (DOL), and VA with cooperation from HHS will provide early intervention and test strategies to help prevent Veterans from becoming homeless. This effort pays particular attention to female Veterans, families, and National Guard and reservists who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program : Through VA's vision of ending homelessness for Veterans, DOL's Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program provides services to help homeless Veterans obtain meaningful employment and to stimulate the development of effective services. The program serves over 21,000 homeless Veterans, and includes separate programs for the homeless female Veterans, homeless Veterans with families, and incarcerated Veterans.
Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshop: VA, DOL, and DOD will reform the Employment Workshop portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for the first time in 19 years to include a special outreach initiative for military spouses. The current TAP has provided over 1.7 million separating and retiring military members and their spouses with employ¬ment and job training assistance and other transition services. The new program will include an aggressive, hands-on tailored workforce readiness program for service members and their spouses.
Small Business Programs: To further complement the efforts of VA's Office of Service Disabled Veterans Business Utilization, the SBA has partnered with Syracuse University to institute two new small business-oriented programs for Veterans and their families, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) and Operation Endure & Grow. V-WISE and Operation Endure and Grow provide training, networking and mentorship to women Veterans through a training program, online training, and network support structures for female Veterans and National Guard and Reserve members, their families and business partners.
Post-9/11 GI Bill: VA will continue to ease the Post-9/11 GI Bill application process, including transferability to spouses or children for service members with over 6 years of service. This benefit offers transferability to a family member once the service member has been in longer than 6 years and agrees to serve 4 additional years. The VA also administers the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship for children of service members who die in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
Returning Service Members