Tag Archives: vets

Vietnam Veteran Loses Arm for Second Time

Teresa Yonkers of the Florida VA Team  aka Soldier’s Angels asked for me to help put out the following alert copied from their website:

(Click picture for video)

Vietnam Veteran Mitch Robertson and his wife Vickie left their home in Montebello, Virginia for their vacation in Destin, Florida. On their way they stopped in Gaffney, South Carolina at a hotel for the night. When they woke up their vacation had turned bad.

Mitch and Vickie went out to their car and found that someone had broken in and stolen their bags. In one of those bags was a Prosthetic Arm that helped give Mitch his freedom.

Mitch had lost his entire left arm when his helicopter crashed in Vietnam. The prosthetic arm that was stolen is a bionic model that was made specifically for Mitch. Mitch not only has lost his arm but is also slowly dying from Agent Orange. The new bionic arm gave him hope that his remaining years would be easier and that it would give him the freedom to do things he hasn’t done in 38 years.

Mitch put out a plea saying that who ever broke into his vehicle can keep his suitcase full of clothes and even the electronics that he had in there for his boat but please give him back his arm.

Our own Lori Tucker, SouthEast Regional Manager for the VA Team contacted Mitch and Vickie today. Lori asked Vickie what can Soldiers’ Angels do to help. Vickie’s response: For right now please just help us get the word out.

So to help this Veteran get his freedom back I’m posting this.

Here is some information on how to spot the bag:

-The arm is in a black and yellow duffell bag
-MHC Prosthetics is written on the bag
-the charger in the bag has the phone number of the company who made the arm

Link to Video   (from Channel 7)

(or click picture above)

Any one in the Gaffney, South Carolina area should be on the lookout and with ears wide open.  It is not likely the thief will try to pawn it or to sell it, but it is likely they will keep it around for the novelty of it and word will get around, so if you hear something from your kids or neighbors about someone with an extra arm or showing one off, or if you find one discarded somewhere, or it is donated somewhere, please call the direct number to the manufacturer 1- (540)-292-1165  (number is on the charger) or contact me through my blog or contact the Florida Angels througth their website and also the local police and give them this story.  If you have a blog of your own, consider posting this story there also!

Oldtimer

Hire Vets First

Banner for Hire Vets First

Hire Vets First – VETS

I hope that all veterans that need jobs or considering changing jobs know about this site on your nearby internet:  Veterans’ Employment & Training Service (VETS).

It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.  “Veterans Succeeding in the 21st Century Workforce”.

The mission statement for VETS is to provide veterans and transitioning service members with the resources and services to succeed in the 21st century workforce by maximizing their employment opportunities, protecting their employment rights and meeting labor-market demands with qualified veterans today.

Down the left side of the page are boxes of clickable information for 

Service providers

What grants are available?
2007 HVRP Urban and Non-Urban SGA
What are the requirements for priority of service?

Veterans, Service Members and Families

What is Veterans Preference?
USERRA Questions?
Where can I find help with employment?
What should I know about licensing and certification? 
 

Employers

How do I find qualified veterans?
What does USERRA require?
What is required of Federal contractors?

Down the right side of the page are clickable links to Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Information and other valuable resources.  If I were a veteran looking for help in preparing for a job, I would start down the right hand column and click every line and at least scan what they have to offer, then sign up.  Everything from how to get your documents, how to prepare a resume, how to convert your military experience into civilian readable lingo, how to convert your rank into comparable rank in a civilian organization, how to determine what jobs you may be qualified for, how to schedule interviews, what to wear, what to bring, what to say, how to conduct yourself, and where to find listings for both federal and civilian jobs that give veterans preference.

Here is what Department of Labor says about the TAP program:

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops have provided job-search assistance to well over one million separating and retiring military members and their spouses since 1990. Studies have indicated those who attend TAP workshops find employment sooner than those not participating.

 The Departments of Defense, Labor, Veteran Affairs and Transportation are dedicated to providing you with these important workshops for years to come. TAP workshops are conducted by professionally trained facilitators. Participants will learn how to write effective resumes and cover letters, proper interviewing techniques, and the most current methods for successful job searches. The workshops further provide labor market conditions, assessing your individual skills and competencies, information regarding licensing and certification requirements for certain career fields and up-to-date information regarding your veteran benefits. Information addressing the special needs of disabled veterans is also available

If you are out of a job with time on your hands, what do you have to lose?  There is enormous resource information here.   The manual can be downloaded and viewed on line – all 184 pages of it.   Check it out!

Use the site above to decide what documents you need to get for your portfoleo and begin building a resume now.  Enroll in the TAP program through VETS.  Keep looking for a job with whatever you have, but if you want top dollar and want the very best chance of beating the other guy out, plan out a strategy and build a resume as a special project.  It will make a difference, but don’t stop looking/trying just because you have not completed this program.   Look for a job, work on the program, and if you have not been placed yet or are not satisfied with what you took, finish the program and apply again.  You will be better prepared and better accepted. 

There are some Special Programs you could be interested in – look at the very bottom of the right hand column and find

Helments to Hardhats  

Troops 2 Truckers  

Troops to Teachers  

(These links here are shortcuts to the programs, the logos were added from the sites by me)

Next:  Job listing site for current employment opportunities for veterans

Oldtimer

Veterans Should Know This About Job Discrimination.

Veterans should already know this about job discrimination

But in case you don’t, I’m going to tell you anyway.  If you ever are in need of a job,  or trying to return to a job after military service (and all this applys to homeless veterans as well), or you are disabled and your employer is not accomodating that disablement, you may not know about some programs designed specifically to help you find a new job or return to a job after service.  The first of these is USERRA.

USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)  covers virtually every individual in the country who serves in or has served in the uniformed services and applies to all employers in the public and private sectors, including (but not limited to)Federal employers.

 

The law seeks to ensure that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefits, and can seek employment that is free from discrimination because of their service (public or private employment) . USERRA also provides special protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability.

 

Basically this law gives veterans certain rights to return to their old jobs if they leave for military service.    Veterans are also protected from civilian/private (non federal) employees denying new employement just becasue of your military service (such as an employer just will not hire former military for some reason).  

 

Veterans that are disabled have a further advantage in requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability.  Veterans applying for federal jobs have a special preference (points) assigned that give them an advantage over non veterans when applying for those jobs.

 

Are you covered by the Law?

Click here to find out if you are covered under this law:   Answer the questions and determine if you are covered. Some of these are service related by particular years. 

Do you think you have been discriminated against?

If you think you have been discrimated against, click here: eLaws USERRA Advisor – Discrimination read what it says, then press “continue” and you will find a series of questions that will lead you to an answer as to whether you have a case.

 If you appear to have a valid basis for filing a complaint, how do you file a claim?

Before filing a complaint, you should discuss your concerns with your supervisor and/or the Federal agency personnel office that took the action. Anyone you choose, including an official of a veterans’ service organization, may help you at any time. If you are unable to resolve the matter with the agency, you should:

  • contact your local State Employment Service office and speak to a Veterans’ Employment Representative or a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program Specialist. He or she will make sure your information is complete and forward your complaint to the DOL State representative for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS);

or

  • file a written complaint directly with a DOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) Office. Please review the instructions on how to file a complaint form . You will find a link to the form on the instructions page.   This involves downloading a form 1010 available at the instructions link above..

What are your remedies?

Remedies to a claimant under the law may flow from two different processes. The first is the administrative route (handled by the United States Department of Labor, VETS). The second is the litigation route (handled by the U.S. Attorney General or the Office of Special Counsel). Remedies may differ depending on which route is chosen.

Remedies available through the administrative route can include:

  • Return to a job
  • Back pay
  • Lost benefits
  • Corrected personnel files
  • Lost promotional opportunities
  • Retroactive seniority
  • Pension adjustments
  • Restored vacation

The courts can require the employer to comply with the law and restore all compensation referred to above. Where violation is considered willful the court may double any amount due as liquidated damages. The court may NOT, however, impose any punitive damages under USERRA.

There is a lot more to this topic. What I’ve tried to do above is muddle through some of the links and find some shortcuts.  You should go to the USERRA Advisor home page for the full scoop.

I will cover another of these programs designed to help veterans in need of a job tomorrow.

 

Oldtimer

Desert Storm Veteran on the Streets

Vets plagued by homelessness

The following story is out of Lansing, Michigan.  It is the story of a Desert Storm Veteran that hasn’t been able to hold a job in 10 years and is living on the streets, one of about 175 homeless veterans in Lansing. 

Desert Storm Veteran on the Streets
Written by Clay Taylor
Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Find and Read the rest of this story

Willie Moore Jr., a war veteran, wakes up around 5:30 every morning. After some coffee and a glance at the news, he’s ready to start the day. After attending meetings at Michigan Works! and talking to his caseworker at Volunteers of America, he begins looking for a job.

Moore hasn’t held a job for 10 years, but he’s still optimistic about finding one. He takes advantage of services offered to homeless veterans in the Lansing area.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 195,000 veterans were homeless in America in 2006. Veterans are grossly overrepresented in the homeless community, according to Patrick Patterson, VoA’s vice president of operations in Lansing. “One in eight of the general population is a veteran,” Patterson said. “You’ll find vets in the homeless population around 25 percent.” Patterson said that the greater Lansing area plays host to an average 700 homeless individuals on any given day. Roughly 175 of them are veterans.


Willie Moore Jr., one Lansing’s hundreds of homeless vets,
near the Hall of Justice in Lansing, the site of the annual
Stand Down for Veterans service event sponsored last
week by Volunteers of America. (Clay Taylor/City Pulse)

The explanation for the vast amount of homeless veterans stems from three main causes, says Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. She said some soldiers are hindered by mental illnesses or physical disabilities caused by war trauma or substance abuse. Finding a job is also difficult, as many soldiers joined the service in lieu of attending college and never learned how to prepare a resume and market themselves as potential employees. The third reason is a lack of cheap, safe, affordable housing.

“If you don’t have a job, and you have health problems, trying to find a place to live that is safe and affordable is very difficult,” Beversdorf said.

Moore knows the troubles faced by returning veterans all too well. A veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Moore joined the Army on April 11, 1989, his 24th birthday. His unit, 164th Chemical Company, was preparing to ship out to Saudi Arabia until its orders changed. As a result, Moore never saw combat. He said that he was more disciplined when he returned from duty, and like his high school baseball days, it gave him another chance to wear a uniform.  

There is more to this story, use the link above to find them.

Heroes are out there too

Click “front page” for the rest of Oldtimer’s posts.  You will find links in the blogroll to the right that will select all homeless veteran posts and all homeless youth posts if that is your greater interest.

Oldtimer

GPD – Grant and Per Diem Program for Homeless Vets

GPD Transitional Housing Program

for Homeless Veterans

The GAO did a study of the Grant and Per Diem Program in 2005 and reported it in late 2006.  The information below came chiefly from that study – a 59 page PDF file.

GPD flowchartThe Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD)–VA’s major transitional housing program for homeless veterans–spent about $67 million in fiscal year 2005. It became VA’s largest program for homeless veterans after fiscal year 2002, when VA began to increase GPD program capacity and phase out national funding for the more costly contracted residential treatment-another of VA’s transitional housing programs. To operate the GPD program at the local level, nonprofit and public agencies compete for grants. The program provides two basic types of grants-capital grants to pay for the buildings that house homeless veterans and per diem grants for the day-to-day operational expenses.

 cup of coffeecup of coffed quote

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                    

Capital grants cover up to 65 percent of housing acquisition, construction, or renovation costs and require that agencies receiving the grants cover the remaining costs through other funding sources. Generally, agencies that have received capital grants are considered for subsequent per diem grants, so that the VA investment can be realized and the buildings can provide operational beds.

Per diem grants support the operations of about 300 GPD providers nationwide. The per diem grants pay a fixed dollar amount for each day an authorized bed is occupied by an eligible veteran up to the maximum number of beds allowed by the grant. Generally under this grant, VA does not pay for empty beds.

VA makes payments after an agency has housed the veteran, on a cost reimbursement basis, and the agency may use the payments to offset operating costs, such as staff salaries and utilities.  By law, the per diem reimbursement cannot exceed a fixed rate, which was $29.31 per person per day in 2006.  Reimbursement may be lower for providers receiving funds for the same purpose from other sources.

On a limited basis, special needs grants are available to cover the additional costs of serving women, frail elderly, terminally ill, or chronically mentally ill veterans. Although the primary focus of the GPD program is housing, grants may also be used for transport or to operate daytime service centers that do not provide overnight accommodations. 

 According to VA, in fiscal year 2005, GPD grants supported about 75 vans that were used to conduct outreach and transport homeless veterans to medical and other appointments. Also, 23 service centers were operating with GPD support.

Barracks Style Bunk BedsMost GPD providers have 50 or fewer beds available for homeless veterans, with the majority of providers having 25 or fewer.  Accommodations vary and may range from rooms in multistory buildings in the inner city to rooms in detached homes in suburban residential neighborhoods. Veterans may sleep in barracks-style bunk beds in a room shared by several other participants or may have their own rooms.

In fiscal year 2005, VA had the capacity to house about 8,000 veterans on any given night. However, over the course of the year, because some veterans completed the program in a matter of months and others left before completion, VA was able to admit about 16,600 veterans into the program. 

Homeless vets per yearOldtimer’s Comments:  The GAO found that the VA’s GPD program was the VA’s largest homeless program beginning in 2005, spending $67 million on 194,000 veterans, a whopping 94 cents a day per homeless veteran – you can’t buy a vet a cup of coffee for that.   It assigned a van to outreach more than 2500 homeless vets per van.   It provided support to 23 service centers with an average of 25  or fewer beds, something like 600 beds total while in actuality much of the money went to vans and administrative costs, so the figure per vet is quite low. 

The curious thing about the chart above, provided by the GAO, is the sudden disconnect between 2003 and 2004.   A sudden loss of 121,000 homeless vets in one year!  The VA says it “improved its counting methods,” now relying on the Continuum of Care program under HUD.   The CoC program is a count of all homeless.  Unfortunately, there is no consistent query relating to veterans in their survey.   There is no consistant directive requiring VA centers to use a particular counting method.  The GAO says that, “in 2005, more than twice as many local VA officials used HUD counts as was the case in 2003.”  That indicates some do and some don’t.   No one knows within tens of thousands how many homeless veterans there are.

Considering The VA has capacity to house 8000 veterans on any given night in 2005, the other 186,000 homeless veterans on those same nights had to fend for themselves.  Considering that 8000 beds times $29.31 per night means the VA should have spent $85 million on the bedded veterans over a year’s time, but could not as they only had $67 million to spend, much of which went to the vans and overhead.  Obviously there were considerable empty beds during the year due to underfunding or inefficient turnover in available beds.

More on this report later.

Oldtimer

Click here for all homeless veteran posts 

FACT: 43% of Homeless Males Over 25 are Veterans!

Fact:  If military service were not a causal factor in veteran homelessness, only 27% of homeless would be veterans! 

In a previous post I’ve documented sources for several statistics relevant to homeless veterans.  The data in that post has been carefully researched and represent a significant improvement from my earlier attempts.  These new statistics include the percent of the total male homeless over 25 that are veterans (43%).    Let me present a couple of relevant charts for those of us who are more visually oriented.

US vs Veteran Population

The chart at the left shows that veterans make up 11.7% of the total US population 18 or older. 

 The figures are documented in the document linked above.

Our total population is 301.9 million and 74.6 percent of us are 18 or older, old enough to enlist.  That works out to be just over 225 million, male and female.

The veteran count, also documented in the link above, includes both wartime and peace time living veterans.

                                                                                                                                              

Male US Population vs VeteransThe chart at the left is the same except only the male populations are charted.  

I’ve chosen to use this chart as it more reasonably represents the age and demographics of homeless veterans. 

We also get to compare similar demographics between charts.   Less than 1% of veterans under 25 are homeless.  Less than 0.3% of homeless vets are women.

 The total US Male population 25 and older is 93,800,000.   The total male veterans 25 and older is 24,910,000.

Male Veterans Make Up 27% Of  Male Population Over 25.

                                                                                                                                                       

43% of Homeless Men Over 25 are Veterans!

25 and older male homeless vetsThe chart at the left shows that male homeless veterans make up 43% of the male homeless over 25.  The data is documented in the previous post link above.

If the homeless veterans were representative of the US male population, you would expect that the last two charts would look very similar. 

You would expect the male homeless veterans to represent about 27% of the homeless population

Veterans are grossly overrepresented  in the homeless population.

                                                                                                                                                

The Department of Veterans Affairs says this about the homeless veterans:

Although many homeless veterans served in combat in Vietnam and suffer from PTSD, at this time, epidemiological studies do not suggest that there is a causal connection between military service, service in Vietnam, or exposure to combat and homelessness among veterans.”

The VA Claims “No Causal Connection To Service”

OK, I think the charts above put the lie to that statement.  If there were no causal relationship, the homeless veterans would total less than 123,000 instead of the 200,000 that are homeless on any given night and the pie charts would look essentially the same.  It is my opinion that PTSD and substance abuse problems acquired while in service play a major role in the lives of homeless veterans.  

The VA goes out of its way to try to acquit PTSD and combat service as causal effects.  Why do that do that?  Why even bring it up at all?  Could it be that they know that military service is a factor to homeless veterans (big time)  but do not want to pay for it?  Smoke screens that try to let us believe they have considered those things and found them not a factor?   Well….  something is a factor and it is time the VA took its head out of the sand!

I call on our Congress to get to the bottom of this and fix it. 

These are men and women that put on uniforms and took up arms in service to our country and so far our country has been too cheap to treat them as the Heroes that they are.

Oldtimer:  Click for All Homeless Veteran Posts.  

Homeless Veterans – Facts By the Numbers

Published Statistics Vary Greatly 

I’ve seen a lot of statistics that vary from source to source all over the place.  Most of them not referencing their source, many of them not being specific on the definitions or the exact group being cited.  I’m going to attempt to put down some numbers that come from trusted sites and clarify the statistics as best I can.    Links are to sources.  We will try to make sense of these numbers in a later post – stay tuned.

The total population of the United States: 

As of May 19, 2007: 301,875,007.  Source US Census Population Clock.  If the number above doesn’t agree it is because we have a net gain of one person every 11 seconds.  

By Census Bureau sex and age, 49% are male, 51% female, 74.6% (225,200) are 18 or older, 48% (114,900,000) male over 18, 52% female over 18.   The total male population over 25 is 92,800,000 men.

The total population of veterans:

 (Includes Peacetime Veterans): 26,403,000, of which 24,810,000 are men and 1,593,000 are women as of census 2000. 

The total population of wartime veterans:  

(Wartime Only):  19,157,000 of which  18,073,000 are men and 1,084,000 are women as of 2004.   

Veterans under age 25:   0.8% (153,000) are men and 0.3% (58,000) are women.

Total estimated spending for veterans:

 (Dollars in 2004):  $62.0 Billion for 2004 ($234 per veteran).

Where veterans Served:

By Service 2002 :  WWII 4,762,000;   Korean 3,733,000; Vietnam 8,293,000; Persian Gulf War 3,573,000;  Peacetime 6,461,000.  

Homeless veterans:

There are 200,000 homeless veterans on any one day, up to 400,000 during any year; 97% of the homeless veterans (194,000) are male, and 3% (6,000) female on any one day.  These are the VA’s best estimates.  No one is really counting.  56% (112,000) are African American or Hispanic.  

Of these 45% (86,000) suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) 73% (146,000) suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. 

Total US homeless population:  

2005 Estimate:  Approximately 744,313 people homeless on a single night.  This includes 56% in shelters, 44% unsheltered; 59% single adults, 41% in families (98,452 families counted); 23% chronically homeless (171,200 disabled and long term or repeatedly homeless ).   The 172,000 chronically homeless use up 50% of the services. 

Of the total homeless population, 66 % (491,000) are males;   93% (456,700) of homeless males are 25 or older;  41% (201,000) of the males are employed as compared to 27% (68,300) of females.

Calculated Results: 

43% of homeless males 25 and older are veterans.   How do I arrive at that value?   The number of homeless males 25 and over is 456,700 and the number of homeless male veterans is 194,000.   I beleive this is as valid as the counts that make up the data.   There are less than 1% veterans under 25 and about 0.3% homeless women veterans.      

27% of all males over 25 are veterans but 43% of all homeless males are veterans.   There is a disconnect here, the percentages should be about the same.   This 27% calculation uses 24,910,000 male veterans 25 and over and 92,823,000 US males 25 and over.    

Stay tuned – work in progress – this post will be updated and a new post will massage and chart these numbers

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