The parades and picnics are over. Speeches made and proclamations read. The American flags that lined the streets throughout the country and California are neatly folded, stored until the next national holiday.
Veterans Day – America’s annual day of thanking veterans for defending this country and the freedoms our Constitution guarantees – is in the books for 2022.
Not so, however, at CalVet. We take the words on our Veterans Day Poster this year—“Veterans Served to Protect Our Rights / We Fight to Protect Theirs”—to heart. We fight to benefit California’s nearly 1.6 million veterans year-round, every day, and in a multitude of ways. And with Thanksgiving Day now upon us, we give thanks for the honor of serving those who served.
“It is our privilege and duty to do everything within our means to smooth their transitions and ensure their futures,” said CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani, a veteran who served 27 years as an Army surgeon before being appointed to lead CalVet in 2015.
Too often and throughout history veterans have put their lives and futures on the line for this nation in war only to come home to have to battle Congress for healthcare or other benefits. It happened in 1932, when veterans protested at the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to get the bonuses they were promised for fighting in World War I. They were met with force: their protest was quelled by the same Army in which many of them had served. It took four more years before they received their bonuses.
It happened again recently when veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars came to the Capitol, this time to demand care for the toxic burn pit exposure they suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. It took public pressure from high-profile names to get Congress to pass the PACT Act earlier this year.
It should have never needed to come to that, said Secretary Imbasciani.
“Accessing their earned veteran benefits and getting their due respect back home should never be as difficult as what our veterans faced while defending our Constitution and freedoms,” he said.
Which is why Veterans Day is not, it never has, and it never will be a one-day show of gratitude at CalVet. We explained some of the ways we fight for them on our social media pages in the days leading up to Veterans Day. Here is the entire list:
Veterans Home Loans
More than 440,000 veterans and their families have achieved home ownership, thanks to CalVet’s Home Loan Program. Since 1921, CalVet has loaned more than $8.5 billion – and not a dime of it at the taxpayers’ expense – to California veterans. Our dedicated staff members know that many veterans need some TLC – tender lending care – and look beyond the credit scores to help them qualify. In doing so, they often become like family, as this 2020 CalVet Connect story explains bit.ly/3NAIu2G.
California Veterans Health Initiative
In May 2022, California established the California Veterans Health Initiative, a $50 million program within CalVet for veteran suicide prevention and mental health expansion. The program will focus on prevention, early intervention and direct services, to include an outreach and education campaign, grant opportunities and research. To read the press release about the new program visit bit.ly/3DV4GQJ.
Local Interagency Network Coordinators
Our eight Local Interagency Network Coordinators, or LINCs, located up and down the state bridge the gap between CalVet and the federal, state, county, and non-governmental entities that provide services to the state’s 1.6 million veterans. During recovery from wildfire and other emergencies, the LINC team also staffed Local Assistance Centers. Every day, LINCs represent CalVet and connect directly with veterans. Read our CalVet Connect story about the LINCs by visiting calvetconnect.blog/2021/01/16/calvetlincs.
Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program
Since 2015, around 3,500 low-income and chronically homeless veterans have received supportive housing, thanks to the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) Program. CalVet, in partnership with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) provides grant funding to build multi-unit housing for veterans and their families, guaranteeing wrap-around supportive services, in addition to a roof over their heads.
Justice Involved Veterans Initiative
Our Justice Involved Veterans Initiative works with incarcerated veterans in state prisons to help them understand and access their veterans benefits. In partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) our CalVet Veterans Claims Analysts work with inmates to file claims for benefits as they prepare to return to society, or provide benefits that help families stay together while the veteran is in custody. To read our CalVet Connect story on the Justice Involved Veterans Initiative, visit calvetconnect.blog/2022/09/02/jivi1/ or watch the project video on YouTube.
Veterans earned benefits by virtue of their service. CalVet fights to make certain they get them. Staff at our three District Offices, co-located at the USDVA Regional Offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, assist veterans and their families in obtaining their earned benefits by reviewing incoming claims from the counties and by aiding in the appeals process when denied.
Since 2017, the three CalVet District Offices have supported County Veteran Services Offices in the review and submission of nearly 111,000 disability and pension claims and represented 5,252 veterans and their survivors at hearings before the Board of Veterans Appeals. These efforts have secured more than $280 million in retroactive appeals payments, annual appeal awards, annual claim awards and claim retroactive payments for California’s veterans and their families.
CalVet cares for veterans to the very end, including burial. Our three veterans cemeteries, located in Igo, near Redding; at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, and the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside are the final resting place for more than 17,000 veterans and their dependents. To read our CalVet Connect story on the return to in-person Memorial Day services at the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside visit calvetconnect.blog/memorialdayserviceseaside.
Veterans Homes of California
Approximately 1,700 aged and disabled veterans and their spouses and domestic partners enjoy award-winning, long-term care throughout CalVet’s eight Veterans Homes of California. A new 240-bed skilled nursing facility is currently being constructed at our Yountville Home. To read our CalVet Connect story about the new facility visit calvetconnectblog.wordpress.com/3E2eDgB. For more information about our award-winning Homes, go to www.calvet.ca.gov/calvet-programs/veteran-homes.
California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education
Every year, tens of thousands of student veterans use their earned education benefits throughout California to attend post-secondary institutions. The California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education (CSAAVE) looks out for veterans, helping them get the most out of their education benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. CSAAVE reviews, evaluates, and approves programs at post-secondary institutions ensuring they meet state and federal requirements. CSAAVE advocates for high-quality, diverse education and training opportunities for veterans and their dependents, while also protecting veterans from bad actors in higher education.
CalVet Women Veterans Affairs Division advocates for 163,000 California women veterans and their families and raises awareness of the responsibility to treat women veterans and those who identify as female with dignity, respect, and equity. CalVet Women Veterans Affairs provides services, support, and solutions to ensure women’s service is honored, just as they have honored our nation with their heroism. Visit our Women Veterans Division page at www.calvet.ca.gov/calvet-programs/women-veterans.
CalVet’s Minority and Underrepresented Veterans Division provides outreach and resources to California veterans such as informational webinars, workshops and commemorative events. Visit our Minority Veterans and Underrepresented Division page at www.calvet.ca.gov/MinorityVets.
This list represents just a sampling of the way we serve California’s veterans.
With Veterans Day in the books and Thanksgiving Day just ahead, grateful Americans returned to their normal jobs and routines. So did we at CalVet, just with California’s 1.6 million veterans in mind.