Conference Participants Hear How They Can Support Veterans and Strengthen Communities

March 11, 2013

By Elisha Harig-Blaine

With more than one million veterans returning home as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to a close, representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs spoke with attendees at the 2013 Congressional City Conference about how they can access available federal resources that target veterans’ needs. Robert Reynolds, Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration's Benefit Assistance Service spoke about the VA's e-benefits program, which connects veterans to benefits such as healthcare and disability.

Linda Charest of the Department of Housing and Urban Development discussed the numerous HUD programs that can assist veterans, including the HUDVET Directory, which is designed to assist with the planning and delivery of community-based services for veterans. Ms. Charest also spoke about homeless assistance grants that can assist veterans, as well as the Agency's primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single family properties.

Brian Ketz, Acting Chief of Staff with the Department of Labor's Veterans’ Employment and Training Services, spoke about the Agency's 2,700 American Job Centers (AJCs) located across the country. AJCs provide training, employment services and job search assistance to any one in need, but also have specific staff in place to assist veterans and veterans with disabilities.

Participants also heard from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey.  The Chairman spoke about the important role that local leaders have in assisting veterans to reintegrate into the community, as well as the unique qualities and assets that veterans bring to their communities.

Recognizing the important role of veterans in cities, NLC is working with stakeholders in Tacoma, WA to improve service coordination and delivery to homeless veterans. Through improvements to services for homeless veterans, city officials and others anticipate additional community benefits that will help all veterans, regardless of their housing situation. In a Tuesday morning session at the Congressional City Conference, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the important work being done in Tacoma, as well as hear from the Mayor and a City Councilor from Auburn, WA about the work their city is doing to improve services for veterans.

For more information about what your city can do to help veterans, visit www.nlc.org/veteranshousing.