Category Archives: Veterans

Employment for Veterans: Trends and Programs

Source: Benjamin Collins, Robert Jay Dilger, Cassandria Dortch, Lawrence Kapp, Sean Lowry, Libby Perl, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R42790, February 20, 2014

Veterans’ employment outcomes in the civilian labor market are an issue of ongoing congressional interest. This report offers introductory data on veterans’ performance in the civilian labor market as well as a discussion of veteran-targeted federal programs that provide employment-related benefits and services. According to federal data, the unemployment rate for veterans who served after September 2001 is higher than the unemployment rate for nonveterans. Conversely, the unemployment rate for veterans from prior service periods (a much larger population than post-9/11 veterans) is lower than the nonveteran unemployment rate. The varied demographic factors of each of these populations likely contribute to these variations, though their degree of influence is unclear. There are a number of federal programs to assist veterans in developing job skills and securing civilian employment. Broadly speaking, these programs can be divided into (1) general veterans’ programs, (2) programs that target veterans with service-connected disabilities, and (3) competitive grant programs that offer supplemental services but may not be available to veterans in all areas. ….

Medical Foster Homes: Shifting Nursing Home Care to “Micro” Homes in the Community

Source: Cari Levy, Emily Whitfield, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, Volume 15, Issue 3, March 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Medical Foster Homes (MFH) are an alternative to nursing home care for Veterans who prefer care in a private home rather than an institutional setting. Referred to as “micro homes,” up to three residents can receive care in the home from a primary caregiver who owns the home and receives room and board payment from the Veteran. All medical care is provided by the VA Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) Program.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2-14

Sections include:

The Basics
Just beginning to think about long-term care? Start here; it’s more than just insurance. — What is Long-Term Care?, Who Needs Care, How Much Care Will You Need?, Who Will Provide Your Care?, Where Can You Receive Care?, Who Pays for Long-Term Care?, Long-term Care Considerations for LGBT Adults, Alzheimer’s, Avoiding a Fall, Glossary, Finding Local Services

Medicare, Medicaid & More

Find out what is covered and what is not. — Medicare, State Medicaid Programs, Veterans Affairs Benefits, Other State Programs

Where You Live Matters

Is your home, community and state well-suited for aging/long-term care? — Staying in Your Home, Living in a Facility

How to Decide

Protect your family by thinking ahead and making your decisions known. — Advance Care Plan Considerations, Will I Need a Lawyer, Legal Steps for Medical Well-being, Legal Steps for Financial Well-being

Costs & How to Pay

Long-term care is expensive, but there are several ways to pay for the care you may need. — Costs of Care, Costs of Care in Your State, What is Covered by Health & Disability Insurance?, What is Long-term Care Insurance?, Using Life Insurance to Pay for Long-term Care, Paying Privately

Phoenix ends city’s problem with chronic veteran homelessness

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, January 6, 2014

Phoenix declared it is the first city in the nation to eradicate the problem of chronic veteran homelessness. On Dec. 19, Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton announced that all previously identified chronically homeless veterans in the city are now housed, according to local paper The Republic. The City Council allocated $100,000 in November to help put Phoenix’s homeless vets in transitional or permanent housing by Christmas. At that time, 56 individuals were identified as homeless veterans. All 56 will transition to permanent housing by Feb. 14. …

Veterans and Homelessness

Source: Libby Perl, Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS Report for Congress, RL34024, November 29, 2013

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought renewed attention to the needs of veterans, including the needs of homeless veterans. Researchers have found both male and female veterans to be overrepresented in the homeless population, and as the number of veterans increases due to these conflicts, there is concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise commensurately. The 2007-2009 recession and the subsequent slow economic recovery also raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including veterans.

Congress has created numerous programs that serve homeless veterans specifically, almost all of which are funded through the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs provide health care and rehabilitation services for homeless veterans (the Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans programs), employment assistance (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program and Compensated Work Therapy program), and transitional housing (Grant and Per Diem program) as well as supportive services (the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program). The VA also works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans through the HUD-VA Supported Housing Program (HUD-VASH). In the HUD-VASH program, HUD funds rental assistance through Section 8 vouchers while the VA provides supportive services. In addition, the VA and HUD have collaborated on a homelessness prevention demonstration program.

Several issues regarding veterans and homelessness have become prominent, in part because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One issue is ending homelessness among veterans. In November 2009, the VA announced a plan to end homelessness within five years. Both the VA and HUD have taken steps to increase housing and services for homeless veterans. Funding for VA programs has increased in recent years (see Table 5) and Congress has appropriated funds to increase available units of permanent supportive housing through the HUD-VASH program (see Table 6). Congress has appropriated $425 million to support initial funding of HUD-VASH vouchers in each year from FY2008 through FY2013, enough to fund nearly 58,000 vouchers.

Another issue is the concern that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are at risk of homelessness may not receive the services they need. In addition, concerns have arisen about the needs of female veterans, whose numbers are increasing. Women veterans face challenges that could contribute to their risks of homelessness. They are more likely to have experienced sexual trauma than women in the general population and are more likely than male veterans to be single parents. Historically, few homeless programs for veterans have had the facilities to provide separate accommodations for women and women with children. In recent years, Congress and the VA have made changes to some programs in an attempt to address the needs of female veterans, including funding set asides and efforts to expand services.

A Framework for Restructuring the Military Retirement System

Source: Roy A. Wallace, Lieutenant Colonel David S. Lyle, Dr. John Z. Smith, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, ISBN 1-58487-580-1, July 2013

The current military retirement system has been integral to sustaining the All Volunteer Force (AVF). Mounting federal budget challenges, however, have raised concern that the program may become fiscally unsustainable. While several restructuring proposals have emerged, none have considered the implications of these changes to the broader issue of manning an AVF. Changes to the existing system could create military personnel shortfalls, adversely affect servicemember and retiree well-being, and reduce public confidence in the Armed Forces. With the right analytical framework in place, however, a more holistic system restructuring is possible, one that avoids these negative effects while significantly reducing costs. A comprehensive framework is provided, as well as a proposal that stands to benefit both servicemembers in terms of value and the military in terms of overall cost savings. …Our proposal is called the 10-15-55 plan. Service members and the military contribute to a 401(k) account as soon as they enter service. At any point, a service member may leave the military with his or her contributions to the 401(k). At 10 years of service, the service member controls 50 percent of what the military contributed to the 401(k). That percentage increases by 10 percentage points each year for 5 years until the service member reaches 15 years of service, at which time the service member controls 100 percent of employer contributions. In addition to the 401(k) account, service members who continue to 20 years of service also receive the DB pension plan as it currently exists, with the exception that they may not receive payments until they turn 55 years of age. While all current service members would be grandfathered under the existing pension system, new entrants would be covered by the 10-15-55 proposal. The 10-15-55 proposal would likely be more desirable to new entrants than the existing pension plan because of the uncertainty that most new recruits face about serving a full 20-year career. When evaluated against the pension framework provided in this monograph, the 10-15-55 pension proposal has many attractive features. …
See also:
Executive Summary

Health Care Spending and Efficiency in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Source: David I. Auerbach, William B. Weeks, Ian Brantley, RAND Corporation, RR-285-MTF, 2013

From the abstract:
In its 2013 budget request, the Obama administration sought $140 billion for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 54 percent of which would provide mandatory benefits, such as direct compensation and pensions, and 40 percent of which is discretionary spending, earmarked for medical benefits under the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Unlike Medicare, which provides financing for care when its beneficiaries use providers throughout the U.S. health care system, the VHA is a government-run, parallel system that is primarily intended for care provision of veterans. The VHA hires its own doctors and has its own hospital network infrastructure. Although the VHA provides quality services to veterans, it does not preclude veterans from utilizing other forms of care outside of the VHA network — in fact, the majority of veterans’ care is received external to the VHA because of location and other system limitations. Veterans typically use other private and public health insurance coverage (for example, Medicare, Medicaid) for external care, and many use both systems in a given year (dual use). Overlapping system use creates the potential for duplicative, uncoordinated, and inefficient use. The authors find some suggestive evidence of such inefficient use, particularly in the area of inpatient care. Coordination management and quality of care received by veterans across both VHA and private sector systems can be optimized (for example, in the area of mental illness, which benefits from an integrated approach across multiple providers and sectors), capitalizing on the best that each system has to offer, without increasing costs.

Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation

Source: Libby Perl, Erin Bagalman, Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara, Elayne J. Heisler, Gail McCallion, Francis X. McCarthy, Lisa N. Sacco, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, RL30442, June 7, 2013

The causes of homelessness and determining how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became particularly prominent, visible issues in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem like a straightforward one, with individuals and families who have no place to live falling within the definition. However, the extent of homelessness in this country and how best to address it depend upon how one defines the condition of being homeless. …

…A number of federal programs in seven different agencies, many originally authorized by the McKinney-Vento Act, serve homeless persons. These include the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program administered by the Department of Education (ED) and the Emergency Food and Shelter program, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers multiple programs that serve homeless individuals, including Health Care for the Homeless, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth program. …

…This report describes existing federal programs that provide targeted assistance to homeless individuals and families (other federal programs may provide assistance to homeless individuals but are not specifically designed to assist homeless persons). These include those programs listed above, as well as others that Congress has created since the enactment of McKinney-Vento. In addition, this report discusses federal efforts to end homelessness. Finally, Table 1 at the end of this report shows funding levels for each of the ED, DHS, HHS, HUD, DOL, and Department of Justice (DOJ) programs that assist homeless individuals. Table 2 shows funding levels for VA programs….

The Use of VA Disability Benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance Among Veterans

Source: Janet M. Wilmoth, Andrew S. London and Colleen M. Heflin, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, WP#2013-6, February 2013

From the abstract:
Although there is substantial functional limitation and disability among veterans of all ages, relatively little is known about veterans’ uptake of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI). This project uses data from the 1992, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine veterans’ participation in VA and DI programs. The results indicate that the majority of veterans do not receive VA or DI benefits, but veterans’ use of these programs has been increasing over time. A higher percentage of veterans receive VA compensation only, which ranges from 4.9 percent in 1992 to 13.2 percent in 2008, than DI compensation only, which ranges from 2.9 percent in 1992 to 6.7 percent in 2008. Furthermore, the rate of joint participation in these two programs is low, ranging from less than 1 percent in 1992 to 3.6 percent in 2008. Veterans experience relatively few within-panel transitions between VA and DI programs. Overall, the likelihood of any disability program use is higher among veterans who served during multiple time periods, are older, black or Hispanic, currently married, and have less than a high school education. Among users, the likelihood of any VA use in contrast to only DI use is higher among veterans who served since 1990, are younger, Hispanic, highly educated, and currently married. Among users, variation in the likelihood of any DI use relative to only VA use generally mirrors variation in the likelihood of any VA use, although there are differences in associations with race/ethnicity, education, and marital status.