AL Title of best practice - Transition Assistance Advisors

TAA BEST PRACTICES
JUNE 08
ALABAMA. Title of best practice: “Monthly GWOT Teleconference”
Point of contact(s): VA Regional Office GWOT Coordinator
Concise description of event On the 3rd Thursday of every month the Alabama VA
Regional Office has a teleconference to include participants from all Alabama VAMC’s,
VBA, VHA, Alabama Dept of Mental Health, WW2, Alabama TBI Task Force, and others
as needed. It is similar to our monthly teleconference with emphasis specifically dealing
with VA matters and community events that involve these participants. Good way to
learn a lot of beneficial information as well as staying involved with all community events
that support veterans.
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or participated:
Department of Veteran Affairs (VBA, VHA, VAMC, Vet Centers), Alabama Department
of Mental Health, Still Serving Veterans, TBI Task Force of Alabama, WW2, ARNG
Family Support Assistance Center.
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice: I
use these participants almost on a daily basis to assist me with problems facing
veterans and their families.
After action items:
What went well? New attendees join monthly and specific questions can be sent to the
VA GWOT Coordinator in advance so answers can be provided.
What improvements are needed? Not really an improvement but if this
teleconference gets out to the community, the participants will grow and can ease the
burden of problems facing our veterans and their family members.
Lessons learned? As a TAA, do not be afraid to become involved with any and every
event available to increase your knowledge of what the community has to offer as well
as having assistance to resolve problems.
ARIZONA. Title of best practice: Initial Briefings to the Army Reserves
Point of contact(s): CPT Trevor Graff
Concise description of event : Pre-Deployment Briefings to the soldiers and families
of the 301st MI Battalion USAR
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or participated:
Ed Wills, SBA, Vince Sanchez, AZDVS, CPT Chris Melvin, AZ Family Programs
Director, C. McLaurin, USAA, Triwest Representative, Annette Verna, UCCI, TAA,
MIRC Family Programs Director
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
175
After action items:
What went well? It was a great start to a relationship that we all can build on.
Communication is the key ingredient.
What improvements are needed? N/A
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Lessons learned: One must remain persistent with request to brief all service members
in order to accomplish the mission.
CONNECTICUT. Title of best practice: Working Legislative issues for the benefit of
the military community.
Point of contact(s): Paul Tarbox, Clerk of the Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
(860)240-8467 phone (860)240-5204 fax [email protected] Room 509A, Capitol
Hartford, CT 06106
Concise description of event Legislative Bill signing ceremony was conducted in the
Governor’s Office for several Bills concerning Veterans. Through the efforts of our
“Coalition”, (State Agencies, VSO’s., Military Associations, The Adjutant General and
support of the Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (Rep Ted Graziani, and Sen.
Andrew Maynard) Co-Chairs, we were able to pass several bills to enhance benefits
and entitlements for our Currently Serving Soldiers, their Families, and
Veterans/Retiree’s. It was a coordinated effort by dedicated individuals that will have a
major impact for many years to come. Bill 307, An Act Concerning Recognition of
Veterans and Of special significance is free tuition at State Colleges and University’s to
now include Graduate Degree’s. This is very important for a young guardsman in order
to be competitive in a global economy.
Listing of specific coalition groups who assisted in the event or participated
( TAA-CT , VFW, American Legion, DAV, Reserve Ambassador, Comm. CT-DVA,
National Guard Association and the Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.)
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
The legislation (several Bills) will benefit all currently serving Air and Army Guard
personnel, veterans and their family members.
After action items:
What went well? The legislative Session, even though it was a short session, six
pieces of legislation benefiting the military community passed. It went well because we
new the parameters we had to work within. We were more prepared and did our
“homework” prior to testimony than last years Legislative session. After breaking down
territorial issues, we came together as “one voice” and had the backing of the Veteran’s
Service Organizations, State Agencies and Military Associations. We also had a
Reserve Ambassador provide testimony.
What improvements are needed? Even though we had six Bill’s pass, we had several
others that were presented but didn’t have the statistical data and supporting
documents readily available to support our efforts. This needs more attention by
contacting and working with different agencies to get the supporting information we
need. (Example: Correct numbers of all military deploying who live in the State that
would qualify for the Connecticut Combat Zone Payment) This information is hard to
get from the DOD.
Lessons learned: Do your homework, networking, “schmoozing” and come prepared
to state your case on every issue presented. Because if you don’t, you’re not
supporting the Soldier and his/her needs
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GUAM Title of best practice: Veteran’s Upward Bound Program, sponsored by Guam
Community College
Point of contact(s):
Susana Q. Mafnas TAA, Guam, 671-735-0455
Elvie N. Tyler, Program Director, TRIO Programs, 671-735-5683
Lee A. Keinz, Counselor, Veterans Upward Bound
Christina C. Flach, Program Coordinator, Veterans Upward Bound
Genevieve P. Mesa, Administrative Assistant, Veterans Upward Bound
Concise description of event : Veterans Upward Bound is a federal program
designed to assist U.S. Military Veterans get a GED or High School diploma and/or
enroll in post secondary education. All services, books and instruction are completely
free of charge for those Veterans who qualify. TAA partnered up with the Guam
Community College to conduct briefings to all Veterans and to assist in disseminating
information on this free program for all Veterans who qualify.
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or
participated :none
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
Air National Guard Airmen/women: 400
Navy Reserve Commander and Staff: 12
After action items:
What went well? We disseminated the information to all Veterans and were very
informative to those who did not know the program existed. Veterans took advantage of
signing up for the program immediately after the briefing was conducted.
What improvements are needed? None noted
Lessons learned? NA
INDIANA. Title of best practice : Completing 10-10 EZ and collection of DD214’s at
Demob site
Point of contact(s): Roger Peterman, TAA Indiana
Concise description of event : I visit each Demob of Indiana soldiers at Camp
Atterbury, Indiana briefing troops on the importance of completing the 10-10 EZ to get
them enrolled into the VA Health Care System. I collect the 10-10 EZ and marry the
DD214 together once it is available. As soon as I have the two (2) documents I deliver
them to the VA Hospital in Indianapolis.
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or participated :
Camp Atterbury SRP staff and Roudebush VA Hospital.
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice: I
have collected documents from two (2) units so far totaling approximately 250 soldiers.
After action items: t
What went well? The SRP and VA staffs recognize the importance of collecting the
10-10 EZ. Our records indicate that only 30% of our soldiers complete the 10-10 EZ
once they have demobilized until they have a medical issue. The soldiers were please
to have some one helping them through the VA enrollment process.
What improvements are needed? N/A
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Lessons learned? We must ensure the 10-10 EZ’s are completed while soldiers are
on Title 10 or most will not complete the process. I see far too many soldiers and
veterans who are having problems that would not be necessary had they completed the
enrollment process.
MONTANA: Title of best practice: Governor’s Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain
Injury
Point of contact(s): James Driggers, Head of TBI Council, invited me and CPT
Jeremy Hedges PDHRA Project Manager to attend the meeting on 23 June 2008.
Concise description of event : Meeting was an information gathering event for
individuals involved in the TBI arena. Most of the individuals were SME’s from around
the state, to include the Native American Reservations. Montana had been awarded a
“TBI” grant, this meeting also involved the Federal representatives that would ensure
that the grant would renewed for future years.
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or participated:
Representatives from the various state and local agencies, tribal representatives,
National Health Service representatives, and the Federal Government Grant providers.
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
NA
After action items:
What went well? Very informative meeting, CPT Hedges and myself were able to
introduce ourselves and our programs.
What improvements are needed? A little more structure in the meeting rules is
needed.
Lessons learned? We did learn quite a bit about how the Federal Government Grant
process works, as those representatives went through the procedures chart by chart.
The state Health Services had a very good submission of the grant application, which
looks like it will be approved.
NORTH CAROLINA. Title of best practice: Demob Team
Point of contact(s):
COL James Cohn, J1, 919-664-6120
Maj Robert Prout, SS, 919-664-6406
Concise description of event:
We send teams from the NCNG to demob stations to meet units returning home and to
give the soldier’s the feeling of “home town” help being there for them.
Listing of specific coalition groups who asssisted in the event or participated:
VA, Family Programs, TriCare, J1.
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
120 Soldiers
After action items:
What went well? Went very well, all Soldiers were enrolled in VA on the spot. Some
problems with TRICARE and other issues were fixed on the spot.
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What improvements are needed? More individual time for Soldier to have with VA
personnel for one on one counseling.
Lessons learned? N/A
PENNSYLVANIA. Title of best practice: CBHCO Round Up
Point of contact(s): CBHCO Staff from VA Beach, Active duty soldiers, CBHCO
soldiers, PA MILPO
Concise description of event:
We gathered speakers from agencies as VA Vocational Rehab, PA State Vocational
rehab, Military and veteran education, TRICARE, VAH/VBA, AMVETS, American
Legion and many more agencies to assist the soldier transition back to their new normal
life style. Several of the soldiers will not be able to return to their military career so we
aimed to transition them and if necessary do lifestyle modifications as well as home
modifications. I believe we provided them with a safety net and a network of valuable
information. We kept our round robin groups small so there would be a closer
interaction between the soldier and the presenter. Between sessions we opened the
resource tables for information to the soldiers. To prepare the units for the up coming
large deployment, we had representative from these units attend to better understand
the CBHCO process. In this way, they will understand the policies and program as it
pertains to their soldiers.
Listing of specific coalition groups who assisted in the event or participated
We had representatives from: Military one source, ESGR, State office of Vocational
Rehabilitation, PA Military Family Relief, USAA, Helmets to Hardhats, PA ARNG
Educational Center, The American Legion, Veterans and Military Education, PA DMVAVA, VA hospital of Lebanon, VA Vocational Rehabilitation, The Vet Center, AMVETS,
State Family Programs office, Chaplain, Social workers, Mental Health, MILPO, TAA’s.
CBHCO staff
Total number of service members who benefited from this best practice We had
60 plus service personnel from the Army and Air National Guard and US Army
Reserves in attendance
After action items:
What went well? The soldiers gravitated towards the benefits and educational
speakers rather than the resources centers as they usually do in the PDHRA’s. They
showed real concern to “moving on” with their life rather than join organizations and
such. They also enjoyed comparing notes and resources among themselves.
What improvements are needed? Comment we received from several soldiers was to
allow more space. This is because so many of our returning veterans have hearing
issues, the noise in a gym type area echoes.
Lessons learned? Allow 1 family member to attend. These comments will be
considered for our next Roundup.
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TEXAS. Title of best practice: Operation Jump Start (OJS) Drawdown
Point of contact(s): Eva Carwile, TX, 512-963-2390 ; Jacinda Johnson, TX, 512-6331850; Jamie Hamilton, Austin VET Center, Austin, TX, 512-416-1314
Concise description of event : The TX TAA’s were invited to attend a weekly brief for
4 weeks for the OJS Service Member’s (SM’s) at Camp Mabry, Austin. Due to the
recent suicides of the OJS SM’s we asked Jaime Hamilton if she would brief the SM’s
with us. Most of the SM’s on the OJS mission have been deployed overseas during
OIF/OEF and are eligible for the Vet Center Benefits. We were hoping the SM’s would
feel comfortable in utilizing a resource that was confidential and free. We stressed to
them all the benefits the Vet Centers have for our SM’s and how confidential their
services are. We also let them know that the Vet Center usually will not place the SM
on meds. Many of our SM’s are tired of not being heard and being placed on medicine
as an answer to their issues. .We also worked with our J1 and invited EEO to the
briefings. Since most of the SM’s had been on the OJS Mission for employment
purposes we were worried about employment issues. We wanted them to know they
would be treated fairly and we were taking all of their issues seriously.
Listing of specific coalition groups who assisted in the event or participated Vet
Center , EEO, Tricare
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
435
After action items:
What went well? We were able to inform the OJS Service Members of their benefits
and offer them counseling, education and employment resources. We compiled a list of
employment resources as well as a list of Career Fairs throughout the state of Texas in
which we were told was really appreciated since most of the soldier’s were returning to
no employment. Jaime Hamilton from the Vet Center was wonderful. The last day of
the briefings she was there three hours longer than we were there talking to the SM’s.
She really made a difference. Some of our SM’s are still very reluctant to talk to anyone
because they are afraid of anything being on their record. The Vet Center is secure and
confidential. We have not had any incidents reported since the OJS drawdown. We
really feel giving our SM’s the correct resources has made a difference.
What improvements are needed?
After the first briefing we realized the information most requested was on employment
and counseling. It was really beneficial having the Vet Center there to inform the
Service Members of the different counseling options they offer.
Lessons learned: N/A
VERMONT. Title of best practice: Developing a working relationship with the local
Politicians’ and their Staff.
Point of Contact Ron LaBounty TAA, Fred Forhand LMSW Vet Center, Senator
Bernie Sanders, and The Secretary of the VA James B. Pecke
Concise description of event : I have been working with the Senators Staffers since I
started in as a SBA now a TAA, in short we all have a common goal and that is to help
the returning Veterans and their families when they need help and also to work on fixing
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thing that will make the service members adjustment back as seamless as we can. We
do this by letting the public know what needs they have as well as what we can expect
from the returning veteran and how we can help either through employment, financial
aid, VA assistance and counseling. We also have an outreach team funded by Senator
Sanders to go out and do wellness visits at the services member’s home.
The Vet center hosted a private meeting with Senator Sanders and VA Secretary Pecke
and about twenty Veterans too discuss VA benefits and VA treatment of veterans and
the short comings they have experienced in the VA and how it can be changed to make
it a better for the Veteran seeking services through out the whole VA making the
transition more seamless and user friendly.
Listing of specific coalition groups who assisted in the event or participated, The
Vet Center staff, the Senator’s staff and the VA Secretary’s staff.
Total number of service / family members who benefited from this best practice:
Thousands
After action items: (include at least the following:
What went well? The Secretary and the Senator got to hear from the people that are
affected by what they do first hand, and the services member told them what is broken
and what is working in the VA system also what is working right with the VA.
What improvements are needed? The veterans gave a large list of things that needed
improvement and how they can be fixed.
Lessons learned? If you are going to say something is not working you should have a
plan on how to fix it, because just complaining doesn’t fix the problem!
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