November 16, 2015

Veterans Survey Calls For Continued Commitment To Vets Services

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The outpouring of responses to my 2015 Veterans Survey is helpful and encouraging as I continue to work with Idaho's veteran community to improve veterans services.  Nearly 1,000 Idahoans participated in the survey.  The survey results demonstrate an unwavering commitment among Idaho veterans to ensuring current and future veterans have access to high-quality care.  The vast majority of survey participants identified themselves as servicemembers, and their insights provide a path forward for continued progress.

Through the survey, veterans have shared personal stories of success and hope gained through VA programs.  These experiences highlight ways the VA is working well to help our veterans.  On the other hand, veterans have also shared horrific stories of personal loss or deprivation because of perceived failures of the VA.  My office stands ready to help these Idahoans however we can.  I have also heard many inspiring accounts about specific people within the VA community who go above and beyond to help Idaho veterans, even with limited resources.  Idaho is very fortunate to have so many local individuals dedicated to the needs of those who served our country.

The Veterans Survey is more than just a survey.  It is a process that has brought together people all across the state of Idaho with the aim of improving veterans services and experiences with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The survey has been a tool for feedback and for relationship building across the state.  Relationships have been built with local leaders at the VA, Idaho Division of Veterans Services (IDVS), and in Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs).  These local leaders have used the survey to share with me their considerable knowledge of VA programs. 

In the weeks ahead, I will discuss more of the details of the survey results.  The survey is intended to serve as a new starting point for conversations about the future of the VA in Idaho.  All are encouraged to read the survey results that can be found on my official website at www.crapo.senate.gov.  I use the incoming information to set my policy agenda for the next year.  Hopefully, Idahoans, including those who work for the VA, IDVS, or volunteer with a VSO, will find the survey report useful. 

Additionally, although the survey has concluded, it is never too late for Idahoans to contact me to share their thoughts and experiences, whether they are about the VA or another federal agency.  If you find yourself in need of assistance with a specific agency, please contact the staff in one of my regional offices to discuss your situation, after which I will contact the agency on your behalf.  While I cannot direct a certain outcome, I can help communicate the circumstances and request that the agency take appropriate actions to assist you.  Additionally, due to jurisdictional constraints, I can only assist with federal agencies.  If your concern is with a state or local entity, you may wish to contact the appropriate jurisdiction for these issues.  More information regarding assistance, including contact information, the required privacy release form and frequently asked questions, can be accessed through my website, at www.crapo.senate.gov.

As we celebrate the service of America's veterans this Veterans Day and honor their dedication to this country, our nation must ensure that the services provided to support their military service respect the personal costs of our freedoms.  We cannot let up in our work to ensure that quality veterans services are easily accessible.  Thank you to the Idaho veteran community for your service to our nation and your steady dedication to ensuring the efficiency and responsiveness of veterans care. 

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