State Budget Considers Additional Funding for County Veteran Service Officers
June 13, 2014
The budget approved by the Legislature's Budget Conference Committee and forwarded to the Governor for final approval includes $3 million in additional funding for County Veteran Service Offices. These additional funds, paired with existing budget allocations, would total nearly $5.6 million for veteran’s services statewide and would translate into approximately $50,000 in additional funds for the Placer County Veteran Service Office in the coming fiscal year.
During the 2013-2014 budget cycle the Placer County Veteran Service Office received just over $40,000 in additional funding to help serve Placer County Veterans. These funds were used to hire part-time employees whose duties range from answering phones and greeting walk-in clients, to processing veteran’s benefits claims. One of the part-time staff people is a retired rating specialist from the VA Regional Office in Sacramento who has completed 121 applications for new or increased veteran’s benefits, and realized nearly $130,000 in retro-active payments and nearly $12,000 in new monthly benefits since November 2013.
“These additional funds really make a huge difference in the amount of help we are able to provide to our local veterans,” said Placer County Veteran Service Officer, Jonn Melrose. “It is so critical to the work that we do that these funds are approved.”
These annual, one-time funds from the State budget allow staff to provide outreach to veterans to make sure they are aware of the benefits available to them and review claims for accuracy before they are submitted to the VA for approval. Not only has this outreach resulted in additional benefits being transferred to local veterans, but it also makes the VA claim process run more smoothly.
“If we send them a completed claim, the VA can take action more rapidly,” said Jonn Melrose. “Having these part time staffers really helps us to not just speed up the process, but also to greatly expand the number of veterans we serve.”
Public support for including these funds in the 2014-2015 budget will be crucial in ensuring the Placer County Veteran Service Office receives this allocation. The office is urging anyone interested in expressing their support for the allocation of the additional $3 million in funds for California’s veterans to contact the Governor’s Office by phone, fax, or email.
For more information, contact the Governor's Office at 916-445-2841 (between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, M-F), and Fax: 916-558-3160, or go to the Governor's web-site. Be sure to reference budget item 8955-101-0001.