Resources for Returning Veterans
On October 21, President Obama announced that all combat troops would return home from Iraq by January 1, 2012. Troops serving in Afghanistan are expected to start coming home in September of 2012, with all troops expected home by 2014. Many benefits and support programs are available to help these heroes and their families readjust to civilian life:
REGISTER & GET CHECKED OUT
- Register with the Veterans Administration for a post-exit medical exam. This will help veterans receive care if needed and get them “on the radar screen” for the VA benefits system. Visit www.va.gov for more.
JOBS & EMPLOYMENT
- Veterans Preference for Federal Jobs. Veterans are given special priority for federal government jobs because of their training and service to their country. This preference applies to all federal agencies, and veterans should ensure that their service record is taken into account when applying to these jobs. You can find more information on the “Feds Hire Vets” program at www.fedshirevets.com.
- Businesses Get Tax Credits for Hiring Vets. The Vow to Hire Heroes Act was signed into law, meaning that businesses can now receive up to $9,600 in tax credits for hiring an unemployed veteran, depending on how long the veteran has been unemployed. Because the program is new, make sure prospective employers know they can apply for this tax credit if they hire you.
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess Program. This program offers comprehensive assistance at each step of the job search process, from adjusting military skills to the civilian world to applying to locating a suitable job. Go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/ to learn more.
- Helmets to Hardhats. This program helps connect veterans with careers in construction. Visit www.helmetstohardhats.org to learn more.
- USAJOBS.gov. This online database of government jobs has special features for helping veterans find employment. Visit http://www.usajobs.gov/Veterans to find out more.
- H2H. A Yellow Ribbon-funded jobs database that connects veterans with military-friendly companies.
- GI Bill. The Veterans Administration has two options to help veterans pay for college: the new “Post-9/11 GI Bill” and the original “Montgomery GI Bill.” This assistance can save vets thousands of dollars on tuition, depending on their circumstances. Go to www.gibill.va.gov to learn which bill works for you.
- Mental Health Coaching. “Coaching into Care” is a new program that helps family and friends assist veterans who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress or other mental health issues. Visit www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching or call 1-888-823-7458.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is becoming increasingly common for veterans returning home. To learn more about the symptoms or get connected with mental health resources, call 1-800-342-9647 or visit www.ptsd.va.gov.
- If you need urgent guidance with mental health issues, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Medical Benefits. Medical treatment and benefits are available for veterans through the Veterans Administration (visit www.vba.va.gov for more information). If you have problems receiving benefits and need help negotiating with the VA, you can contact Rep. Napolitano about your problem by visiting the "Help with a Federal Agency" web page and a caseworker from her office may be able to help.
- eBenefits. For veterans already registered with the VA, visit www.ebenefits.va.gov to conduct your VA business online and save time. You can file claims, appeal, get military documents, and check the status of your claims and see what stage of the process you're in.
- VA Home Loan Program. The VA can help vets buy a new home or refinance their existing mortgage at a lower rate to save money. Visit www.homeloans.va.gov for more information.
- Helping the Homeless. Housing and job training are available to help homeless veterans get back on their feet. Visit www.va.gov/homeless to see what programs are available.
- Vet Hunters. This local anti-homelessness group believes leaving a veteran on the streets is no better than leaving him on the battlefield. They work to locate homeless veterans and get them back on their feet. Visit http://vethunters.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. L.A. County also offers a wide range of services to support veterans. Visit http://dmva.co.la.ca.us/mva_pamphlet.pdf to learn more about veterans benefits and how to contact the department.
- CalVet. The California Department of Veterans Affairs has its own range of benefits and programs. Visit http://www.calvet.ca.gov/ to learn more.