Legislative Update December 2014

Last month we had the opportunity to exercise our rights as citizens of this great country to participate in the political process by voting. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supporters, my volunteers and the countless others who supported me over the past months. We are grateful to all of the candidates who unselfishly sacrificed their time, treasure and talent to offer themselves in service to our communities. I am ready to return to Raleigh and work hard for you. You can count on me to be your advocate for families, education, the economy and our environment.

During this holiday season we have the opportunity to thank those among us who have given of themselves to keep us safe from enemies, foreign and domestic, who have protected the freedoms we enjoy and the principles of democracy that we hold dear. We are grateful to the veterans of our community and we honor them for their service to our country. I believe it is imperative that we not only thank our veterans for “services rendered,” but that we provide for a quality of life befitting that service. We must work to ensure adequate housing, responsive comprehensive healthcare and access to employment opportunities.

NCDVA PROGRAMS

The North Carolina Department of Veteran Affairs (NCDVA) is responsible for managing and coordinating the care of all North Carolina veterans. North Carolina ranks 9th in the nation in veterans per capita, with approximately 800,000 veterans calling our state home. We ranked 6th in the nation in total veterans expenditure for the 2012 State fiscal year, spending over $4.2 billion. This commitment to our veterans is part of a strategy to make North Carolina “The State of Choice for Veterans.”

During the current fiscal year, North Carolina state agencies and public higher education institutions operated 23 programs for veterans, 11 of which spent $53.9 million solely on veterans and their families.i Some of these programs are funded by the federal government, some are funded by the State, and still more are funded by a mix of federal, State, and private funds. Veterans, and their families, can find programs offered for legal services, education, training and employment opportunities, and much more. Two of the more interesting programs include Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) and, the Veteran Scholarship Program.

VUB is a federally funded program that prepares veterans with the requisite skills to pursue a post-secondary educationii. The program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), has been awarding grants nationally since 1972. However, the first grant was not awarded in North Carolina until 2012. In 2012, the DOE awarded Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) a five year, $1.23 million grant to increase attendance rates and success among veterans living in North Carolina. Central Carolina Community College will serve residents of Chatham, Harnett and Lee Counties.

Another program awards scholarships to the children of war veterans. The Division of Veterans Affairs offers two distinct scholarships. One of the scholarships is the functional equivalent of a “full ride,” with all expenses being covered except books. This scholarship is funded by escheats (property given to the State when folks die without heirs) and currently over 2,500 of these scholarships have been awardediii. Recipients are chosen based on need and merit, although, financial need is weighted more heavily than academics. A second scholarship program is funded by appropriations and is more limited, as it only covers “tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board at each of the 16 campus UNC System schools.” Over 2,600 of these scholarships have been awarded. There are, however, a few stipulations. For example, recipients must be residents of North Carolina and also be within “a certain class or category of deceased, disabled, combat or POW/MIA veterans.”

Both of these programs have aided the war veterans and their families who choose to call North Carolina home. With North Carolina’s significant investment in our veterans, it is no wonder why officials are confident in their ability to make our state “The State of Choice for Veterans.”

These are only two of the programs available for veterans and their families. Please contact my office to obtain information on these or any of the other available programs; to share your concerns on issues; or if my office can be of any assistance to you in any other way.

 

 

 

 

 

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