A Look Back at 2018 - Message from the Secretary
Veterans make up roughly 10 percent of West Virginia’s population. Citizens of our state have proudly served in every military branch around the world. As West Virginians, we are proud of them, and all of us in the Department of Veterans Assistance are honored to serve them in return.
Two-thousand, eighteen has been an active year for the Department of Veterans Assistance. We have continued our efforts to make our offices more visible and accessible. We’ve moved our offices in Charleston and Wheeling to newer locations that are easier for disabled veterans to access and closer to federal Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities. This makes it convenient for veterans seeking federal and state services at those locations. We’ve also opened a new office in the growing Teays Valley area to better accommodate the many veterans there. Additionally, we added three Field Supervisors to our staff. Chosen from our most experienced and knowledgeable service officers, they will ensure that service officers remain well-trained and veterans get the best service possible in all our offices.
We have entered into a partnership with the Disabled American Veterans to provide transportation services to and from scheduled VA medical appointments, for qualifying veterans, using the DAV Transportation Network. This partnership will allow us to reduce our fleet by 60 percent and still ensure that veterans have access to health care and are getting the same great transportation services they have received over the past years.
In June, we conducted a site survey of the proposed location of the new Beckley Veterans Nursing Facility. At the end of the year, we received renderings and preliminary construction cost estimates. The construction of this facility will add much needed support for our aging veterans in Southern West Virginia.
With the assistance of the National Guard, we improved drainage in a section of the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery that was prone to holding water. This will help ensure that the cemetery remains a beautiful, serene resting place for our state’s veterans year-round.
This past year, from our budget of $10.3 million, we were able to bring approximately $2 billion in federal funds to West Virginia to benefit our veterans. Funds were provided for healthcare, education, compensation, home loans, equipment, personnel, and other services to support veterans and their families in a meaningful and positive way. These funds have a significant impact on the economy of West Virginia.