On July 21, Reps. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mon.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) reintroduced the Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that aims to provide new federal resources to county veteran service officers (CVSOs). Similar to the CVSO Act previously introduced during the 116th session, this bill would authorize $50 million annually for five years in the form of competitive grants to States to expand the work of CVSOs. The bill would also direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prioritize grants that will serve areas with high rates of veteran suicide, Veteran Crisis Line referrals, as well as areas with CVSO shortages.
In 36 states and two Native American tribes, CVSOs play a key role in helping veterans access a range of service-connected federal benefits, including VA health care, housing and transition assistance programs. However, these officers are currently funded almost entirely by counties, which creates challenges for areas with high demand or counties that serve veterans in rural areas. The CVSO Act would provide new federal resources to county governments to help meet growing caseloads and ensure that all of our veterans are accessing the benefits they earned through their military service. This new federal funding stream for CVSOs is also critical as our communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant economic impact on county finances across the nation.
Awarding competitive grants worth $250 million over five years to states would improve local outreach to veterans, assist in the development and submittal of claims on behalf of veterans, hire additional CVSOs and train CVSOs for VA accreditation. To receive funds under the law, a state must submit an application including a detailed plan for the use of these funds, how they will meet underserved veterans’ needs and other information.
Counties support the CVSO Act and applaud Congress for their bipartisan work to provide critical federal resources to our veterans. NACo encourages county officials interested in supporting the legislation to send letters of support to Members of Congress using this advocacy template. We will continue to monitor the legislation and its progress.
- NACo Letter of Support
- NACo Policy Brief: Authorize Resources for County Veteran Service Officers
- CVSO Act Fact Sheet
- CVSO Act Letter of Support Template
- NACo Webinar: Strengthening Veterans Services through County Partnerships