RD351 - Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner's 2007 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
Since 1942, Virginia has shown its respect and honor to veterans by serving them as effective advocates. Prior to 2003, veterans services in Virginia were fragmented among the former Department of Veterans Affairs, which operated the benefits and cemeteries programs; the Virginia Veterans Care Center, which was operated by a series of contractors under the supervision of a Board of Trustees; and the Department of Education, which oversaw the activities of the State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training. In 2003, these services were consolidated under one agency, known as the Department of Veterans Services (DVS).

DVS is organized into four service delivery branches – benefits, cemeteries, care centers, and veterans education – plus an administrative section. Integral components of the Department of Veterans Services team are the Board of Veterans Services, the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations, the Veterans Services Foundation, and the Veterans Care Center Advisory Committee, which work collaboratively to support the effective delivery of services to Virginia’s veterans.

The Benefit Services section assists veterans and their dependents in obtaining compensation and pension benefits from the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. DVS operates 22 field offices throughout the Commonwealth.

Virginia’s veterans cemeteries provide burial and perpetual care services to veterans and eligible dependents. The Virginia Veterans Cemetery, in Amelia, is a 127-acre facility. The Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, in Suffolk, is a 74-acre facility.

The Virginia Veterans Care Center, located adjacent to the Salem VA Medical Center, is a 240-bed facility that provides long-term skilled care and assisted living services to veterans. The dedication ceremony for the 160-bed Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center, located adjacent to the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, was held on September 26, 2007. The facility will begin accepting residents in early 2008.

The State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training (SAA) reviews and approves post-secondary education programs operating in the Commonwealth, ensuring the programs meet strict federal qualification guidelines. Veterans may use their G.I. Bill and other educational benefits only at programs approved by the SAA.

The Board of Veterans Services (BVS) is responsible for formulating policies, developing procedures, reviewing department budget submissions, and making recommendations for the efficient and effective delivery of veterans services, as well as studying all matters affecting the welfare of Virginia’s veterans.

The Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations (JLC) advises DVS on matters of concern to veterans and their families.

The Veterans Services Foundation (VSF) is responsible for administering the Veterans Services Fund and for working with the Department to identify additional revenue sources for veterans programs.

The Veterans Care Center Advisory Committee advises the DVS Commissioner on matters pertaining to the administration of veterans care centers.