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Attorney General Cuccinelli announces stronger advocacy for veterans during military tele-town hall
- Wants to train state agencies to use the law to speed approval of federal veterans benefits -
RICHMOND (June 25, 2010) -- Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced last night his plans to introduce a new level of veterans advocacy to the attorney general’s office, including training state agencies how to use the law to better advocate for their clients when it comes to obtaining federal veterans benefits. He made the announcement during a telephone town hall meeting for veterans and active duty military Thursday night.
Recalling a campaign promise, Cuccinelli said that one of the most important things he could do for veterans was to help speed up the process for them to obtain the services they are eligible for from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We are going to train the people who work for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and other agencies on ways the law can help them better advocate for veterans benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. As veterans too often know, their benefits can be delayed by federal red tape,” Cuccinelli said.
In addition, Cuccinelli said another priority was to ensure veterans have opportunities to become and remain gainfully employed in Virginia. One of his strategies to achieve that goal: Ensure that state agencies and localities receive training related to the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), as well as training on Virginia Code Title 44 as it relates to employment and reemployment rights.
Cuccinelli tasked Senior Assistant Attorney General Cindy Norwood with reaching out to agencies and localities to provide such training. Norwood is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps with the 80th Training Command Army Reserve and is a trained ombudsman with the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
He also asked Norwood to work with the Virginia Employment Commission’s veterans employment representatives and disabled veterans outreach program representatives to see if there were ways to assist with their efforts to help veterans find jobs.
Another issue Cuccinelli highlighted was the plight of homeless veterans. He committed to working with Virginia’s Commissioner of Veterans Services, former Vietnam prisoner of war and retired Navy Commander Paul Galanti – who was also on the call – to develop strategies for determining which veterans are homeless and how best to assist them.
Cuccinelli also said he would work with the Virginia judiciary to determine how best to educate judges on how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury issues affect veterans. “Many veterans who get into trouble with the law after returning from combat zones need medical help, not jail time,” he said.
Cuccinelli took live questions from several callers and also talked about some of the new legislation related to veterans taking effect July 1.
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