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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Veterans

Acronyms Breakdown from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee has expended energy figuring out how to engage consumers who are Veterans or active duty military. During this process, we realized that we do not always understand the communication and acronyms used by the military. So, we conducted some research and came up with a few terms we think would be useful for CIL staff to have. We have also included brief descriptions of the meaning of those terms.

The Veteran Subcommittee meets monthly and is always looking for new members. If you are interested in joining, please contact Marsha Unruh at munruh@the-ic.org.

Help All Disabled Vets Get Access to Space Available

You can support our disabled veterans injured in the line of duty before September 23, 1996 in their efforts to obtain access to the budget neutral Space Available program. The problem is that the Space Available program allows only veterans who were injured on or after September 23, 1996 to fill empty seats on military owned or operated flights for free on a standby basis. Chairman Mac Thornberry included Section 1046 into the National Defense Authorization Act this year to fix this oversight and allow all disabled veterans the opportunity to use this program. Please fill out this form to generate a thank you letter that urges Chairman Thornberry to continue fighting to help our disabled veterans who are currently being excluded because they were injured prior to an arbitrary date.

It only takes about two minutes! The form can be found at: https://nfb.org/thank-you-thornberry.

Financial Capability Survey for Veterans and their Families

National Disability Institute (NDI) has worked closely the past several years, partnering with IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs, to improve the overall financial wellness of Veterans, service members and their families. NDI developed a brief electronic survey to collect information to assist NDI and its partners in developing and improving access to free financial and tax education programs and services for Veterans, their families and organizations that serve Veterans. The survey is completely voluntary, names and personal information will in no way be used or collected. If you are a Veteran, please take less than 10 minutes of your time to complete this very important survey to help us improve services for Veterans. If you know a Veteran(s) encourage them to take the survey so we may reach as many Veterans and their families as possible. Let’s all show our appreciation for our Veterans, service members and their families by ensuring the voice of our Veteran community is heard by taking the Financial Capability Survey for Veterans and their families.

IRS employees who are Veterans are welcome to take the survey since the platform hosting the survey is not blocked by the IRS.

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Participate in the CIL Survey by April 29!

The Veteran Subcommittee has been meeting and getting back up and running over the past few months. A few dedicated members are working to assess the needs of our membership as it connects to the veteran community. A couple of weeks ago, we sent out a survey to Center for Independent Living (CIL) Executive Directors asking about what CILs are currently working on as it connects to directors, what resources Centers need to move forward, and feedback on what the Veteran Subcommittee should be working on in the coming year. So far we have received 26 completed surveys. We want to thank those directors and CILs who have taken a little time to provide us this very valuable information. The survey will be open until Friday, April 29, 2016. If your CIL has not yet participated, please take the survey. We will be sharing results in a future issue.

As Memorial Day is approaching, we wanted to share with members the difference between Memorial and Veterans Day. For many this may seem obvious, but we have heard from veterans with disabilities how often the days seem to be confused. Memorial Day will be held Monday, May 30, 2016 and is a federal holiday remembering those who have died while in military service. Veterans Day is a federal holiday held on November 11 that honors the service of all US military veterans. It is an important distinction as members of the IL community look for ways to connect to the veteran community. It is also really important to try and find other ways besides federal holidays to really connect to the veteran community and build that into your planning for the entire year.  [Read more…]

CIL EDs: NCIL’s Veterans Subcommittee Needs Your Input!

Dear CIL Executive Directors,

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee and our friends at APRIL are working on a strategy to engage Centers for Independent Living and help provide resources to CILs about legislation affecting Veterans with disabilities, education and opportunities to work with Veterans, and how CILs can be involved with state partners in working with Veterans.

We are seeking your input as a Center Director on how you are currently working with Veterans.

Survey results will be compiled and individual responses will be kept confidential. If you are not working with Veterans now, that information is just as valuable to our planning as if you are working with Veterans.  [Read more…]

Veterans Subcommittee Calling All Members!

November 11, 2015 was Veterans Day, and many of us paused to pay tribute to the veterans who have served our country and the sacrifice of these individuals and their families.

Many NCIL members know that veterans have not always been honored as they are in 2015. It might be hard for some to understand that there have been times when we did not honor the lives of those who gave to their country: Vietnam veterans who were treated as enemies upon their return to the U.S., women who were not fully recognized as Veterans and were not eligible for Veteran benefits until after WWII, and veterans of color.

We invite you, as NCIL members, to work on the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee to ensure that veterans are not only honored, but that their Independent Living needs are supported. There is a lot of work to be done, especially as Congress looks to gut the budget.

In 2015, we hear speeches and grandstanding about our veteran community from politicians, but when it comes down to policy and supporting our veterans, policy-makers are lacking in action.

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee is comprised of veterans who have disabilities and allies in disability rights to bring forward our community’s important policy issues. A lot of members joined the Subcommittee’s meetings in August, but for the past few months attendance has been very low. We are looking for members who are able to spend time on committee work. If you are interested in joining the Subcommittee, you must be a NCIL individual member and have time to contribute to the Subcommittee. If interested, contact Co-Chairs: Sarah Launderville at slaunderville@vcil.org and Mark Derry at adamarkd@aol.com.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 11, 2016.

We also invite you to check out these resources for Veterans:

Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Resources for Finding, Reaching, and Assisting Veterans in Your State

John Johnson, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee Co-Chair, recently attended and presented at the national AgrAbility Training Conference. Twenty six states were represented at the conference. John participated in a session called un-conferencing, the topic of which was working effectively with veterans. In an un-conferencing session, a topic and facilitator is provided and participants determine what is discussed and shared during the session.

AgrAbility programs in our nation deal with farmers, farming, ag business and rural communities, and how to serve and interact with persons with disabilities who live and work in that venue.

The participants of this April 3rd session identified 4 topics the full house wanted to discuss:

  1. How do we find veterans in our state?
  2. How do we reach veterans in our state?
  3. The best methods for assisting veterans
  4. Veteran-related resources

In attempting to answer those questions, the following list has been generated. Consider using these lists in developing and implementing outreach to veterans. Additions and corrections can be sent to: richard.brzozowski@maine.edu.  [Read more…]

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Data Gathered So Far on CILs Serving Veterans

In January of 2014, the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee posted an online survey to gather some basic data on serving Veterans. While we are still collecting data, here are some results thus far.

  • 11 CILs reported they track Veterans-served separate from I&Rs
  • 9 CILs reported they track Veterans, but include I&Rs in their total.
  • 3 CILs reported they serve Veterans but do not separately track Veterans-served.

Eleven CILs that track Veterans-served separate from I&Rs:

  • Served 376 Veterans in the past year
  • Have 10 Veterans on staff and 9 Veterans are Board members
  • 10 CILs reported one of the following in the counties they serve:
    • Military Base
    • VA Medical Center
    • VA Clinic
    • Regional VA Office

Nine CILs that track Veterans-served and I&Rs together:

  • Reported 539 Veterans combined served and I&Rs
  • Have 10 Veterans on staff and 8 Veterans are Board members
  • 7 CILs reported one of the following in the counties they serve:
    • Military Base
    • VA Medical Center
    • VA Clinic
    • Regional VA Office

While this is a small sampling, it shows CILs are providing services to Veterans.

As new data is submitted, the summary will be updated. CILs are providing a variety of services for Veterans based on local need, in collaboration with state and federal veteran agencies, working with local county Veteran Service Officers, VFWs, American Legions, and of course the four core IL services.

Your Help Requested: Tell NCIL About How You Serve Veterans!

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

In preparation for 2014, the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee undertook an evaluation of itself and its effectiveness to advance veterans’ issues as they relate to independent living and to chart a course for the year and beyond.

Invest in Vets 2008 protest signIn doing so, the Subcommittee retained some existing members and added new members. In addition, the Subcommittee has been broadened though collaboration with APRIL (the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living). NCIL is collaborating with the APRIL Board and membership to establish a joint committee on veterans’ issues, with each entity maintaining their own protocol for membership.

One of the goals of the joint committee is to educate the community about CIL services, what CILs may do for veterans, and the CIL definition of independent living services. It is important to note the VA has a cap on the number of veterans who can receive IL services through the VA program, while CILs are limited only by their own resource limits. Community groups that have been contacted include: local county veterans service offices (VSOs), American Legion groups, VFW organizations, and PVA and DAV chapters. In addition, some homeless shelters may have contact with veterans and thus a prospective contact.

Some CILs are in contact with both their federal and state legislators, especially those with direct involvement in veterans’ issues, and are making them aware of CIL services to veterans. These discussions are well received by legislators because there is increasing recognition and acknowledgement of the need for community-based services for veterans.

The joint committee members believe CILs are providing more services to veterans than is generally accounted for. Several committee members have participated in multiple NCIL and APRIL workshops on veterans’ issues to discuss and learn more about IL services being provided to veterans by CILs. In order to effectively tell our story, the APRIL / NCIL Vets Joint Committee would like to hear about the work you are doing working with and serving veterans. Note: you do not have to be doing anything with the Department of Veterans Affairs or any state / federal agency that receives state / federal dollars to serve veterans.

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee will share these responses with the joint committee in the hope that the data can be used to ask for more core IL dollars. After all, by providing IL services to Veterans, we are building the capacity of our community and the more resources we have, the more work we can do to ensure that people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully.

Help Strengthen Independent Living: Tell Your CIL’s Story about Working with Veterans

By Steve Thovson, Chair, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

You may have heard about the Memorandum of Understanding between NCIL, APRIL, and the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service that was developed over several years and released last summer.

This MOU may open doors for Centers for Independent Living, but CILs need to make the contacts necessary to begin a dialogue with the VA. In Minnesota, there have been visits with the Fargo, ND and St. Paul, MN regional offices to discuss the MOU and what community-based services a CIL can offer. The meetings were positive and we will see what transpires.

I am a Veteran myself and as many of you know, there is a whole lot more to serving Veterans in their communities than just being involved with the VA. We must, as CILs, tell our story about working with Veterans in our communities. [Read more…]