Veterans’ Unemployment Data Continues Downward Trend

The March 2014 unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Veterans are, as a whole, doing better than the national average. While there is still more work to do, the downward trend in Veteran unemployment is continuing.

MAR14VetUnemploymentWhat do the March numbers show? First, unemployment for all Veterans was reported at 6.0 percent, which is below the national average of 6.7 percent. Looking specifically at our most recent Veterans, the Gulf War II era veterans, unemployment is 6.9 percent, which is down from February’s rate of 9.2 percent. It’s also the lowest monthly unemployment rate since November 2008 for Veterans who have served in the Gulf War II era.


We want to see the numbers of employed Veterans continue to rise. For those Veterans looking for work, VA and its federal, state and private sector partners are here to help. Check out some of these resources:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has the Hiring our Heroes program.

The White House’s Joining Forces initiative also works to support Veteran employment.

VA has resources at our employment services page.

Or, you might consider school or training – find information on our educational services page to see what benefits you are eligible for.

For state resources: do an online search for “state name + Veteran employment resources” and you’ll be amazed at what pops up. You can also do an online search for “state name + Veteran educational resources” and you’ll find more benefits and assistance.

Additionally, many government agencies help, too. You can find resources at the Departments of State, Labor, and Justice and be sure to visit the Feds Hire Vets site. And, Veterans can always find assistance at the website.

Finally, don’t forget your Veterans service organizations, non-profit organizations and other groups that provide assistance to Veterans. The VFW offers help through its National Veterans Employment Assistance Service. You can also find online information at the Military and Veteran Career Center at or find a directory of veterans service organizations here.


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Disability Claims Backlog Reduced by 44 Percent Since Peaking One Year Ago

backlog drop-vba-updateOne year after the backlog of pending disability compensation claims peaked at over 611,000 in March 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reduced that number by approximately 44 percent to 344,000 claims – a reduction of more than 267,000 – while at the same time improving the accuracy of the decisions being made on Veterans’ disability claims. Additionally, on average, Veterans are waiting 119 days less for a decision than they were at this time last year.

“No Veteran should have to wait to receive earned benefits. Through a combination of transformation initiatives and the hard work of our employees, we are making significant progress toward our goal of eliminating the claims backlog in 2015,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. “We still have more work to do, and no one is more committed than our Veterans Benefits Administration employees, over half of whom are Veterans themselves.”

The current backlog, defined as claims pending more than 125 days, is at its lowest point since March 2011, when the backlog spiked in part because of the need to readjudicate 150,000 previously decided cases involving exposure to the Vietnam-era defoliant, Agent Orange. The readjudication of these claims was mandated under the Nehmer court decision and followed the Secretary’s decision to add ischemic heart disease, certain leukemias, and Parkinson’s disease to the list of conditions presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange. During this same time period, VA also received and processed over 100,000 new claims for these three conditions from Vietnam Veterans and survivors newly eligible for VA benefits as a result of this decision. Read More »


Better Late than Never: A Vietnam Veteran’s VA Story

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day

Editors note: This post is updated from Doug Young’s Aug. 15, 2014, guest post blog of the same title.

I dreaded the paperwork, but she made it easy for me. I was late coming into VA’s health care system in 2002, but now I’m very glad I did. I’d heard the horror stories from other Vets and wondered if VA was just another government bureaucracy, but when the clerk (herself a Veteran) sat down with me, it was painless. I was amazed to find out that as the holder of a Purple Heart, all of my medical needs would be covered.

She also got tired of hearing me say “Excuse me” and “Huh?” too many times during the interview. The first thing she did after the paperwork was complete was arrange to have my hearing checked. I remember being processed out of the Army in 1970 in Oakland and being given a hearing exam. As I stepped out of the booth, the technician said “You were a grunt, weren’t you?” Read More »


Veteran Achievement in Higher Education: How Data Tells the Story

SVExpSince the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect in 2009, VA has paid more than $38.9 billion in tuition and benefits to 1.16 million Veterans, Servicemembers and their families; and to the universities, colleges and trade schools they attend. Last November, VA announced it had certified the 1 millionth recipient of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Steven FerraroIn 2012 alone, there were more than 179,000 recipients of Montgomery GI Bill benefits and more than 646,000 recipients of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Veterans are using their education benefits.

Monday, after a year of research and number-crunching, Student Veterans of America, in partnership with VA  and the National Student Clearinghouse, released the first phase of the Million Records Project, a research initiative that aims to provide near real-time data that policymakers, service providers, institutions of higher learning and the general public can use to inform and shape policies, programs and products that support student veterans.   Read More »


Valor 24 – Honoring Our Nation’s Veterans

Today, on National Medal of Honor Day, we take a look at last week’s ceremony honoring 24 Veterans whose personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty earned them the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.

To learn about those Veterans and see excerpts from the ceremony at the White House, watch our video below.


Women Veteran Leaders Honored as “Champions of Change”

On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, the White House, partnering with VA, honored 10 local Veteran industry leaders as “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change,” highlighting their incredible contributions to our nation’s business, public and community service sectors.

On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, the White House, partnering with VA, honored 10 local Veteran industry leaders as “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change,” highlighting their incredible contributions to our nation’s business, public and community service sectors. From the left are Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, CEO and Founder of Gracefully Global Group LLC; Dana L. Niemela, MSW, Coordinator of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, Denver, Co.; Erica Borggren, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Coral Wong Pietsch, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Honolulu, Hi.; Sonia Jo Kendrick, Founder of Feed Iowa First, Hiawatha, Iowa; Stacey Young-McCaughan, Director of Research for the STRONG STAR Consortium, Llano, Texas; Army Col. Rich Morales, executive director, Joining Forces; Ellen Houlihan, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, West Point Association of Graduates, Allen, Texas; Gina S. Farrisee, VA’s Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration; Elisa Basnight, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans; Mary Johanna Forbes, Assistant Director for Veterans Services for the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs; Martha Daniel, President and CEO Information Management Resources, Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif. Not pictured is Deborah Scott Thomas, Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer of Data Solutions & Technology, Inc., Edgewater, Md.

Today, the White House honors 10 local Veteran industry leaders as “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change,” and highlights their incredible contributions to our nation’s business, public and community service sectors.

Women Veterans are one of the fastest-growing populations of Veterans. Now 10 percent, by 2020, they will constitute more than 12 percent of all Veterans. In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.”

As we move to leverage the power of a fully represented “Team America,” VA is advancing the cause of our 2.2 million women Veterans.

As the nation celebrates Women’s History Month this March, it’s important to salute women Veterans for their accomplishments and contributions to society. They have broken barriers and capitalized on the many leadership opportunities afforded through military service. We know that women Veterans are models of character, courage and commitment who continue to blaze trails and open doors. Read More »

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VA NEWS #572

March 24, 2014

Hosts: Carmen Cordoba & Prince Taylor
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 14:59

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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VA’s ACA Google+ Hangout Follow-up

Last Friday, March 14, in collaboration with HHS and our community partners, VA hosted a Google+ Hangout to provide uninsured Veterans, their family members, caregivers and advocates with the information they need about healthcare options and the Affordable Care Act. If you missed the event, you can still watch it here:

We received some very insightful questions during the event, and while we were unable to get to all of those questions during the hangout, we followed up with our subject matter experts for a response. Read More »

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25 Years of VA: 25 Facts You May Not Know

25 YEARS V7EDITOR’S NOTE: To highlight our 25 years of service to Veterans, their families and survivors as the Department of Veterans Affairs, over the past week, we’ve shared 25 facts you may not know about VA. We bring all 25 facts together in this post.

With roots traceable back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony passed a law that provided support for disabled soldiers, the U.S. has created the most comprehensive system of assistance for Veterans of any nation in the world.

Since then, we’ve seen support for Veterans grow from pensions for disabled Revolutionary War soldiers in 1776, to the first domiciliary and medical facility authorized by the federal government in 1811, to expanded benefits and pensions for the widows and dependents of Veterans in the 19th century. In 1917, we saw new Veterans benefits when the U.S. entered World War I including disability compensation, insurance for Servicemembers and Veterans and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled. By the 1920s the benefits were administered by three different agencies – the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions at the Interior Department and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. These three agencies were consolidated into the Veterans Administration in 1930. Read More »


25 Years of VA: Facts 21-25


Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address.

Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 elevated the administration into the Cabinet-level department we know today. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 25, 1988, and came into effect under the term of President George H.W. Bush on March 15, 1989

This week, to highlight our 25 years of service to Veterans, their families and survivors as the Department of Veterans Affairs, we’ve shared 25 facts you may not know about VA.  You can find facts 1-5 here, facts 6-10 here, facts 11-15 here and facts 16-20 here. Read More »

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