RD469 - Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner’s 2009 Annual Report - December 28, 2009

Executive Summary:
I take great pride in submitting this annual report on behalf of the men and women of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). We are privileged to serve those who stood on the front line of freedom. From Omaha Beach to the mountains of Afghanistan, from the Korean DMZ to the jungles of Vietnam, and, now, Iraq and Afghanistan, Virginia’s veterans have earned the lasting tribute of a grateful nation and Commonwealth. It is the mission of DVS to ensure that these honored veterans receive the benefits, support, quality care, and recognition they have earned through service and sacrifice.

Nearly 820,000 veterans call Virginia home and represent more than 10 percent of Commonwealth’s population. I am pleased to report that in fiscal year 2009 (FY09) DVS continued to make substantial progress in serving Virginia’s veterans. In FY09, the agency:

• Improved the financial security of Virginia’s veterans by filing 24,334 disability compensation claims, more than a seven percent increase over FY08. Approximately 60 percent of these claims were approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

• Awarded $1.7 million in funding to five regional consortia which will provide services at the community level to veterans with combat stress and traumatic brain injuries and their families.

• Provided greater access to post-secondary educational opportunities by providing support and supervision for 898 approved educational programs.

• Provided 122,600 patient days of care at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center and the Virginia Veterans Care Center in Roanoke.

• Served the memorial needs of Virginia’s veterans by performing 886 burials at Virginia’s two state veterans cemeteries, more than a ten percent increase over FY08.

These great strides would not have been possible without the strong, bi-partisan support of the executive and legislative branches of our government; without the guidance of the Board of Veterans Services, the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations, and the Veterans Services Foundation, and, especially, without the forceful advocacy of Virginia’s veterans. DVS will continue to work with this broad-based coalition to better meet the needs of Virginia’s veterans.

Fiscal year 2010 marks the seventh year of operation for the Department of Veterans Services. A year from now, I look forward to reporting to you on the operation the agency’s core functions, continued progress with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, development of an electronic claims processing system, opening of a third veterans cemetery, progress on a third veterans care center, and the continued delivery of quality service to our veterans.

Vincent M. Burgess