Vol. 19, No. 4 | August 19, 2011

In This Issue:

• Homeless Veterans' Initiatives
• VA Focuses on Women Veterans
• Links Between Single TBI and Alzheimers Noted
• Changes to 9/11-GI Bill
• $30 Million Partnership to Improve Vets' Access to Jobs
• Profile: Sandra Thébaud
• Ultimate Job Search and QR Codes
• News Briefs and Resources

Homeless Veterans' Initiatives

The downturn in the economy has hit virtually everyone in one way or another and unfortunately, a group experiencing that harder than most is homeless Veterans. To provide relief to this most deserving group, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has announced plans to assist homeless Veterans through new initiatives.

Homeless Statistic GraphicGrants for Veteran Families

Shinseki announced the award of nearly $60 million in homeless prevention grants that will serve approximately 22,000 homeless and at-risk Veteran families as part of the new Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. This initial $60 million award will serve Veteran families at 85 non-profit community agencies in 40 states and the District of Columbia under VA’s new homeless prevention initiative.

“This new homeless prevention program will provide additional comprehensive support to Veterans who have served honorably, and now find themselves in a downward spiral toward despair and homelessness,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “This program expands our capacity to act before a Veteran becomes homeless and to target the problem of family homelessness. These grants would not have been possible without the extraordinary partnerships forged with community organizers who are firmly committed to making a positive difference in lives of Veterans and their families.”

Permanent Housing

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Secretary Shinseki also recently announced that HUD will provide $46.2 million to public housing agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to supply permanent housing and case management for 6,790 homeless Veterans in America.

This funding, from HUD-VASH, is a coordinated effort by HUD, VA, and local housing agencies to provide permanent housing for homeless Veterans.

For a complete local breakdown of the rental vouchers, click here

The grants announced today are part of $50 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2011 to support the housing needs of 6,900 homeless Veterans. VA Medical Centers (VAMC) provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless Veterans. This is the first of two rounds of the 2011 HUD-VASH funding. HUD expects to announce the remaining funding by the end of this summer.

Homeless Veterans are referred to the public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the need for and willingness to participate in case management.

VA Focuses on Women Veterans

Women Veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. Of the 22.7 million living Veterans, more than 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total Veteran population and 6 percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services.

Recently the Department of Veterans Affairs has made a big push to address the needs of female Veterans. This initiative includes reaching out to these women for input on how to improve health care services by sharing their experiences with VA.

“We are taking a proactive approach to enhancing VA health care for women Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We are seeking the input of women Veterans so that VA can continue to provide high quality health care to the growing numbers of women Veterans.”

Representatives at VA’s Health Resource Center (HRC) are placing calls to women Veterans nationwide, asking them to share their experiences with VA and suggest potential enhancements that will further VA’s mission to provide the best care anywhere.

VA has trained professionals in all aspects of women’s health, including general primary care, osteoporosis management, heart disease, mental health care, menopausal services and obesity-related issues, such as diabetes. Preventive screenings for breast and cervical cancer are also areas in which VA excels. Soon, all VA facilities will offer comprehensive primary care for women from a single provider.

The Women Veterans Health Care program has made significant changes in the last few years to enhance the health care offered to eligible women Veterans. This progress includes:

· Adopting key policies to improve access and enhance services for women Veterans;

· Implementing comprehensive primary care for women Veterans;

· Conducting cutting-edge research on the effects of military service on women’s lives;

· Improving communication and outreach to women Veterans; and

· Providing mental health, homelessness and other services designed to meet the unique needs of women Veterans

For more information about VA programs and services for women Veterans, please visit: and


Links Between Single TBI and Alzheimer's Noted

Every year 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, and beyond the immediate effects, researchers* are finding that even a single incidence may initiate long-term processes that further damage the brain. TBI is an established risk factor for later development of cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's disease.

"A single traumatic brain injury is very serious, both initially, and as we're now learning, even later in life," said Douglas Smith, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, the study's co-senior author. "Plaques and tangles are appearing abnormally early in life, apparently initiated or accelerated by a single TBI."

This is of course, especially troubling for Service Members as TBI has often been called the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In many instances, Service Members suffer TBI caused by explosive devices, falls and vehicle or motorcycle accidents. There is not an agreed upon number of how many Service Members could have experienced TBI, according to Department of Defense officials.


Traumatic Brain Injury Organizations

America's Heroes at Work Links TBI/PTSD

*The study appears online in Brain Pathology, and was done in conjunction with neuropathologist Dr. William Stewart, from the University of Glasgow and Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, UK.


Changes to Post 9/11 GI Bill

Congress recently made some changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which Veterans attending school should be aware of immediately.

These most recent changes are in effect as of August 1, 2011 include paying the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments upon the highest in-state tuition and fee rates for every state; capping private and foreign tuition at $17,500 per academic year; and ending payments during certain school breaks, to preserve Veterans’ entitlement for future academic semesters. Also, certain students attending private schools in select states can now continue to receive benefits at the same rate payable during the previous academic year.

General Allison Hickey, Under Secretary for Benefits, said “The Post 9/11 GI Bill is incredibly important because it reduces the financial burdens of higher education so that Veterans have an opportunity to achieve their education goals. VA believes it is important for Veterans to be aware of changes to the GI Bill this year and learn more about how these changes may affect them.”

Beginning October 1, 2011, eligible individuals will be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for programs such as non-college degrees, on-the-job training, and correspondence courses, and they will be eligible to receive a portion of the national monthly housing allowance rate when enrolled only in distance learning courses.

VA has already begun processing fall 2011 enrollment certifications. Outreach by VA has helped to increase participation by colleges and universities in the Yellow Ribbon program, which helps students avoid out-of-pocket costs that may exceed the benefit. Today, more than 2,600 schools are participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Complete information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill is available at: VA’s education information phone number is: 1-888-GIBILL-1. For ongoing benefit information, Veterans and Service members can log into the VA eBenefits website: To ask a question in a secure e-mail, use the “Ask a Question” tab at:


$30 Million Partnership to Improve Vets' Access to Jobs

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of $30 million for a new Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative which will soon make it easier for servicemen and women, their families, Veterans and people with disabilities to access transportation services in their communities.

“Our nation is tremendously grateful for the sacrifices America’s armed forces and their families are making,” said Secretary LaHood. “This new initiative will help ensure that getting a ride to work, daycare or to a medical appointment is no longer an obstacle.”

The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative will award competitive capital assistance grants from to local transportation providers and other groups around the country so they may better coordinate and deliver important information through “one-call” or “one click” centers.

This approach means that with just one phone call, or through a familiar website, military families can readily learn, for instance, about the availability of commuter van services that travel to employment centers, vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts that can provide rides to a local rehab center or buses that stop by the local mall. Typically, such information is not available in one convenient place. Better coordination will also help transit operate more cost-effectively by eliminating redundant service and outreach.

“Military families and Veterans must be able to take full advantage of the transportation resources in their communities,” said Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. “Every service member who returns home or relocates to a new community should have a reliable ride to earn a reliable paycheck.”

The initiative is being launched under the auspices of the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), which is chaired by Secretary LaHood. CCAM is a permanent partnership of federal departments working together to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly and low-income individuals.

In addition to the Department of Transportation, which is contributing $30 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Program, two other CCAM member agencies are contributing money and support. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Transportation and Community Living Initiative is contributing up to $3 million for the VA health care network to coordinate Veterans’ transportation needs with community transportation systems.

The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy ( contributing $250,000 for social media tools and training to include Veterans and the military in community transportation decision-making. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense are also lending critical support, in part through their extensive networks of community-based advocates. Additional in-kind support is provided by over a dozen national Veteran service organizations.


Profile: Sandra Thébaud

As part of NVTI's initiative to mentor small Veteran-owned businesses, several contractors are utilized in various training courses. One of those sub-contractors is Sandra Thébaud, Ph.D., a former Lieutenant Commander who spent four years as a Navy Psychologist and consultant to the Marine Corps’ 1st Special Forces Group.

As a NVTI contractor, Thébaud can be found in the Labor & Employment Specialist course and soon will provide training in the Promoting Partnerships for Employment class. One of the areas in which she has special knowledge is in dealing with stress management issues. While in the Navy she was tasked with teaching stress management to the medical staff and then also began facilitating groups for her patients, as well. Additionally, she founded a firm called Paramount Transitions, a business dedicated to providing learning in the areas of stress management and emotional intelligence.

NVTI Director Vaune Shelbourn said, "Sandra has been a great addition to NVTI with her strong background and facilitation skills."

Thébaud has learned about Title 38 and other legislation that affect Veterans and also about how programs involved with VETS work together. She said, "That understanding has helped me put DVOP and LVER positions into perspective and I've become more confident and the training has become more rewarding."

Training at NVTI has reminded Thébaud of something she missed. "I really enjoy working with veterans. I didn't realize how much I missed the military environment until I started working as a contractor for NVTI," Thébaud said. "I have a very high opinion of active duty military members and Veterans--reliable, dependable, accountable, honest, etc, etc. As a Veteran, I feel an instant camaraderie with other Veterans." She also said the NVTI staff has been the best group of people she's ever worked with "and I've worked with a lot," she said. "All of the staff (whether Veteran or not) can be held in high esteem. The team works well together and holds true to the mission of serving those who serve our Veterans. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this team."

Thébaud feels that her years of military service gives her a slight advantage as a trainer in that she speaks the same "language" as the participants. She said, "Even though I've had a different military experience, having been on active duty creates a shared experience that leads to faster rapport building and credibility."

Five Random Questions:

1. Where were you born? I was born in New York City. Some people think it's a scary place to raise kids but I think it was the best place to grow up. It's one of the most culturally diverse places on earth and you don't need a car! If I could afford it, my kids would be growing up there too.

2. What is your guilty pleasure? Reality TV (Amazing Race, Survivor)

3. Last book you read? Read? I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old! :) I think it was The 30 Day Consciousness Cleanse by Debbie Ford (Great book I plan to read again).

4. Most exotic place you’ve visited? Exotic (as in most fantasy-like?) Bahamas. But my favorite anywhere is Switzerland.

5. What was the last thing you laughed at? My kids trying to justify bad behavior.

And lastly, what does Thébaud cite as her most proud professional accomplishment thus far? "I recently published a book called The Art of Loving Life It's based on one of my workshops that has changed many lives for the better," she said. "I am very proud of what I've accomplished through my workshop and I hope to help even more people through my book."

Ultimate Job Search and QR Codes

Do you know what a QR code is? And what could it have to do with the National Learning Center's (NLC) Ultimate Job Search (UJS) for the 21st Century series?

Quick response (QR) codes are the odd, blurry boxes that have started showing up more and more on everything from product packaging, company business cards and mail promotional materials. They are essentially easily scannable information barcodes. All you do is point your camera at the image and receive a message, website, or other information right to your smartphone or computer. A free QR reader is required to read the image.

And how is UJS connected here? In September, at this year's Colorado Society for Human Resource Management conference, NLC staffers will use the progressive marketing tool to inform a broader audience about the Ultimate Job Search package and other NLC training opportunities.

The Ultimate Job Search has now become one of the most utilized job search programs in the United States. From job search workshops, TAP seminars to individual job development this DVD and workbook has helped thousands of job seekers. Order yours today!

Below is a sample QR code for you to try:



News Briefs and Resources

PTSD and Immunity Problems Linked - Preliminary results of a study show a link between post-traumatic stress disorder and compromised immune system in war veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and Arnold School of Public Health, and the Dorn VA Medical Center, shows that PTSD patients have increased levels of inflammation, caused by an increase in certain types of cells that regulate the immune functions.

The results are significant because they could lead to novel methods for diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, said Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, associate dean and Carolina Distinguished Professor at the USC medical school, who is the lead researcher in this study.

The findings also are the basis for a new $1.72 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to Nagarkatti and his team of researchers, who will intensify their research on the pathological basis of immune dysfunction in war veterans with PTSD.

"PTSD is a psychiatric condition with long-lasting symptoms that can occur after exposure to extremely stressful life events," Nagarkatti said. "Patients with PTSD are six times more at risk of committing suicide, and the annual loss of productivity in the United States is estimated to be approximately $3 billion." Read full article here

Job Search Resources - Add these job search sites to your bookmarkeed sites!

Military to federal jobs crosswalk website. Takes the military related jobs held and searches for matching federal jobs.

From, their version of advertising available government jobs

Very good job search site, that scans other websites for matching jobs. The site promises to have up-to-date jobs that are often unadvertised and never fake.

Report on Disability - The first ever World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability.

People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. The report provides the best available evidence about what works to overcome barriers to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, and support services, and to create the environments which will enable people with disabilities to flourish. The report ends with a concrete set of recommended actions for governments and their partners. Read full report at



VETS NET is a communiqué of the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Service and is published several times a year by the National Veterans' Training Institute at the University of Colorado Denver.

Ishmael "Junior" Ortiz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans' Employment and Training Service
Vaune Shelbourn, National Veterans' Training Institute Director

VETS NET Editor email:
Cheryl Swears

Addresses and Telephone Numbers:
US DOL/VETS, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20210; (202) 693-4745
NVTI, 3401 Quebec Street, Suite 5000, Denver, Colorado 80207; (303) 315-2200


The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment & Training Service and The National Veterans' Training Institute electronically publishes this e-newsletter to provide information to pertinent information to our audience. Every effort is made to publish accurate information and to correct errors brought to our attention.

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