Ohio Provides Ideal Resources and Demographics for Veterans Pilot Program
Jun 16, 2010 -
By Congressman Michael Turner
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, I take seriously the promises our nation has made to its active duty service personnel and veterans who have endured the rigorous conditions of military service to secure our freedoms and protect our national interests. I am committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the best possible services and facilities that we can offer.
Last year, I supported the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act (Public Law No: 111-163), legislation that improves health care for veterans, and provides assistance to caregivers of veterans. The recently passed act contained a provision directing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a pilot program geared towards improving veterans outreach, particularly for veterans transitioning from military service. The program is designed to better coordinate outreach efforts through community-based organizations, local government, and State government entities.
Two weeks ago, Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-OH-6) and I led a bipartisan effort to secure one of these five pilot programs for Ohio. Nine other members of the Ohio congressional delegation joined us in sending a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. The letter asserted Ohio provides the ideal demographics and resources necessary to serve as a launching pad for this initiative.
Ohio has the fourth highest veterans’ population among the 50 states. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates there are over 900,000 veterans in Ohio. According to the 2000 census, there are over 60,000 veterans in Ohio’s Third Congressional District alone.
The State of Ohio provides the geographical and cultural diversity to create a comprehensive pilot program. The state meets every targeted population outlined in the program. It has rural and urban locations, one of the largest military instillations in the country, Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), a significant area distant from an active military installation, areas with limited access to health care, and a substantial minority population.
In addition, Ohio contains an organized network of state programs, non-profit organizations, and veteran owned businesses that assist veterans in an array of issues. Ohio has more than 35 active veteran service organizations operating in the state, including the nation’s first chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Dayton Area has a heritage of providing high quality health care to those who have served our country. The Dayton VA Medical Center was one of the three original medical centers authorized by the United States Congress. It has served our community for over 140 years.
Ohio is the ideal location to launch this important initiative designed to improve outreach to the men and women who have served the United States. The sacrifices that our nation’s veterans have made in defense of our nation and our freedoms deserve our respect and our gratitude. As the representative for the Third District of Ohio, I remain committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the best possible services and facilities that we can provide. I hope Congressman Wilson and my efforts will secure a Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program for Ohio’s veterans.