Is VA leading the way or just trying to catch up

For some time now, I have been a very vocal critic of the Veteran’s Administration, not because what they refused to do but for the things that they have not done.  With the news today, I may have to re-think my stiff opposition to their procedures and step back enough to see that in many places where I feel they have failed, there are those that they appear to have either taken the lead.

Where they appear to have taken the lead is found in this article from the VA Office of Economic Opportunity in which they report that “the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA), who launched the Veterans in Piping (VIP) accelerated welding training program in 2008.  This program, which began in Washington State, trains and certifies Veterans to meet union standards for welding.  The VIP program is truly a grassroots effort comprised of local educational institutions, equipment suppliers, partner contractors, and support from the leadership of nearby military installations including Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”

“The classes, which consist of accelerated 18-week courses in welding and/or heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) technical services, confer industry-recognized certifications upon graduation.  Veterans taking advantage of the VIP program gain direct entry into UA apprenticeships, in which they receive advanced instruction and are paid wages for their work on par with their civilian peers.  If they successfully complete their apprenticeships, they will have secured for themselves a position in a rewarding and well-paying career field.  Best of all, this advanced training is paid for entirely by UA and its partners at zero cost to Veteran participants.”

Another is this program designed to assist veterans with securing housing.  It reports that “Assure funds are available for start-up costs (security deposit, first month's rent, sometimes last month's rent). The program offers time-limited, individualized financial assistance designed to assist participants obtain and retain permanent housing. Financial assistance is provided at a level that enables participants to maintain housing.” 

And finally how about this?  “Officials say thousands of veterans are qualified for burial in suburban Chicago's closest national cemetery, but many are unaware of their federal benefits. The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports 38,000 soldiers and their families have been buried in Elwood's Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery since it opened in 1999. However, officials estimate many more don't know of the option. Abraham Lincoln director Sean Baumgartner says there's work to do. Officials say time and forgetfulness are also factors. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the burial plot, a headstone and other benefits valued at about $14,000. Still, the National Cemetery Administration reports 17 percent of veterans in 2013 were buried in national or state veterans cemeteries.”

Now don’t get it twisted, there are still areas where VA flunks this test of taking care of veterans but in these instances above, I have got to salute them because whether they are leading or just catching up, they are moving, there is no doubt about that.  


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