The Office of the Attorney General is responsible for managing many of the Virginia veteran programs. The office recognizes how important it is to provide resources to veterans, in no small part because of the rich military history in Virginia. There are 27 different military bases in Virginia, and it is estimated that roughly one in ten Virginia residents ultimately go on to serve in the armed forces. In 2014, the Attorney General estimated that there were around 800,000 veterans living in the state.
Veterans often need a lot of support when they return from their time in the armed forces. For many Virginia veterans, transitioning back into civilian life is difficult. In addition, veterans returning from combat zones often need medical support. Most veteran programs focus on a specific area. Some veteran programs provide medical services, while other veteran programs provide legal assistance. Many of the benefits and programs available to veterans are also extended to their family members. Listed below are some of the veterans programs available throughout the state.
The Virginia Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration is essentially a hub that veterans can visit to learn more about specific programs available to them. Veterans are owed numerous benefits because of their service, including specific insurance and pension plans. Many of these benefits are difficult to understand because they are stated in very complicated ways. The Veterans Benefits Administration breaks down what benefits are available in an easy way for veterans to understand. The Veterans Benefits Administration also works closely alongside other veteran assistance programs in the state. Even if there is a service they do not specifically offer, the Veterans Benefits Administration should be able to point the veteran towards the correct program that can assist him or her.
National Center for PTSD in Virginia
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very common among veterans. Some veterans will leave the armed forces without even realizing they have PTSD. The National Center for PTSD provides support for any veterans who were exposed to severe trauma during their service. Veterans have the chance to speak with medical experts and other veterans who have gone through similar problems and recovery programs. This is very important, as some veterans have a hard time relating to someone who did not directly serve in the military.
In addition to offering direct support for veterans suffering from PTSD, the center focuses on PTSD research. Many research findings about PTSD have come directly from the National Center for PTSD.
Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program in Virginia
Developed in the late 90s, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program is one of the newer veteran assistance programs available. Compared to normal civilians, veterans often have complicated legal matters, especially if it relates to their benefits. In these situations, veterans want to work with legal experts who understand military laws and know what rights are available to veterans. The Veterans Consortium provides free legal assistance to veterans as well as qualifying family members of veterans.
The Veterans Consortium will only step in after the veteran or family member of a veteran have gone before the Board of Veterans Appeals. Lawyers will review the case, either offering legal advice or directly representing the veteran.
Virginia Veteran and Family Support (VVFS)
VVFS used to be known as the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program. The main purpose of the program is to provide assistance and care for veterans as well as their family members. The program places a greater emphasis on assisting veterans with stress-related conditions or disabilities from their service, but all veterans are welcome. The program not only monitors how veterans and their families are doing, it offers responsive care for veterans and family members who are having a hard time adjusting to life outside of the armed forces.
Military OneSource in Virginia
Military OneSource is not specifically a veteran-only assistance program, since it also provides assistance for military members who are currently serving. The program technically assists in several areas, but one of its main focuses is education and employment. Veterans have many educational benefits, but there are also benefits which apply to dependents of veterans. Military OneSource helps veterans who are unsure of what educational benefits are available to them, and they also make sure schools are properly administering these benefits.
Another important part of the program is making sure veterans are not being discriminated against in the workforce. There is also a specific program available to veterans through Business One Stop, which provides assistance for veterans who want to start their own small business.
Virginia Veterans Crisis Line
Despite the name, the Veterans Crisis Line is not limited just to phone calls. The program has evolved over the years to stay up to date with the latest technological trends. Another option to access the Veterans Crisis Line is through the Department of Veterans Affairs website, where veterans can chat directly with veteran affairs responders. Finally, veterans can text the center directly to find someone to speak with. All of these services are always open to veterans, even during weekends and holidays.