WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, Rep. Jeff Denham introduced the Efficient Service for Veterans Act to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles impeding veterans care. One of the most common obstacles confronted by veterans attempting to receive care and benefits is trouble obtaining a DD-214, a verified record of their service. Denham’s bill would streamline the bureaucratic processes for veterans at Vet Centers, allowing the Vet Centers access to electronic records programs.
A veteran’s DD-214 is a comprehensive record of his military service, and is the swiftest way to determine eligibility for the services available to them at Vet Centers. If a veteran does not have his DD-214, there are two electronic records programs that would allow the Vet Center to view a copy of the form on a secure database. These systems are the Defense Personnel Records Image Retrieval System (DPRIS) and the VA/DOD Identity Repository (VADIR). Rep. Denham’s bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to jointly ensure that the Vet Centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs have access to the (DPRIS) and the (VADIR). Instant verification of their records will allow the Vet Center to immediately provide veterans the highest possible level of service and eliminate the bureaucratic hurdle for the service member.
“This bill eliminates a hurdle impeding care for thousands of veterans across our country. We must remember our commitment to take care of our troops for the years to come,” said Denham, member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Our commitment to our veterans is to put them to work here at home, make sure they are aware of the care available to them and their families, and ensure they receive this care in the most seamless way possible.”
The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Welcome Home Heroes support the legislation. “Vet Centers provide critical care to veterans throughout the nation suffering from PTSD. We applaud the efforts of Congressman Denham as he works to provide these facilities the tools they need to better serve veterans,” Tim Tetz, Legislative Director at The American Legion, said in a news release from Denham's office.
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Vet Centers offer a wide range of readjustment counseling services to eligible veterans and their families to assist their transition from military to civilian life. They include:
· Individual and group counseling for Veterans and their families
· Family counseling for military related issues
· Bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death
· Military sexual trauma counseling and referral
· Outreach and education including PDHRA, community events, etc.
· Substance abuse assessment and referral
· Employment assessment & referral
· VBA benefits explanation and referral
· Screening & referral for medical issues including TBI, depression, etc.
Denham also introduced a resolution supporting the creation of a National Underserved Veterans Awareness Week. The most recent study from the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that in 2009, about 76,000 veterans were homeless on any one particular day and 136,000 veterans were homeless at some point during the year.
Establishing a National Underserved Veterans Awareness Week will help educate veterans and the public on the available resources offered to current and returning veterans. There is great importance in ensuring our veterans are aware of the care available to them and they are receiving the care they were promised.