CVSO Act offers support for county veteran service officers
As Veterans Day approaches, I commend county leaders across the nation who are signing Operation Green Light proclamations and preparing to shine their buildings with green lights to honor veterans! This is an amazing commitment to show our gratitude for their sacrificial service to our nation, and it is a great initial step toward honoring veterans in our local communities.
In the spirit of this initiative, I’d like to share with you even more ways to honor veterans in your counties—all year round. The innovative ideas that brought national recognition to Spokane County Regional Veterans Services, featured in NACo’s “Governing on the Ground,” are simple and easy to replicate. The key is to invest in your veterans — and the return will be greater than you can imagine.
There are several tangible ways to create opportunities for veterans to thrive in your community. First, establish a service-honoring place for them to get connected with their federal VA benefits through a county-funded Veteran Service Officer (CVSO). The CVSO model is gaining traction and the pending Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act (H.R. 984/S. 106) could authorize federal funding for competitive grants to expand and support CVSOs.
Now is the time to show your county’s commitment to serve those who served. Meeting veterans where they are in their own county works, and we have the data to back it up. CVSOs can bring millions of dollars in VA claims awards to your veterans, and your county. This model has reduced veteran homelessness, increased county revenue and increased the quality of life for thousands of veterans.
Next, get your veterans service office established as an approved VA Workstudy Site, and give opportunities for veterans and military family members attending college to work side by side with your CVSOs. VA work-studies are a force multiplier, paid by the VA at no cost to the county, that will enrich your workforce with active learners.
Lastly, honor those who served by establishing your county as a DOD Skillbridge Industry Partner, creating opportunities for transitioning servicemembers to intern with your county departments, also at no cost to the county. This creates a pipeline of highly qualified applicants to your county recruitments and gives your leaders a chance to see the value these veterans bring to their mission.
The veteran population is globally minded and will infuse your workforce with diverse cultures and perspectives that will drive success and improve service to your community — service is not just what they do, it is who they are. Harness the inherent strengths that veterans bring to the workforce, and your community and your veterans will be the better for it.
This Veteran’s Day, commit to these steps to honor and value the veterans in your community. This Veteran’s Day, choose to serve those who served for generations to come and watch your county grow and thrive!
Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.
Bruce Wilber's presidency of the County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin is significant for Native Americans, who have served in the military at higher rates than other ethnic groups since 9/11.