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To Include Veterans as a Targeted Group Within the NAACP National Priorities

WHEREAS, Black veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have served this country through all wars and military conflicts and continue to provide a unique and vital service to the nation as a whole in the preservation of freedom and liberty enjoyed by all who reside within its borders; and

WHEREAS, Black veterans were in the forefront of the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement and have a long history of actively participating in the NAACP, and ultimately transforming the face of America; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has advocated for the civil rights of Blacks, African Americans, Colored People, and Minorities since its founding in 1909; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has adopted a number of national priorities for advocacy to include Civic Engagement, Economic Opportunity, Education, Health, and Justice; and

WHEREAS, Black veterans face many challenges in acquiring the services and benefits they have earned and deserve including voting rights, economic opportunity, education, health, and justice; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP, along with its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States, are frontline advocates committed to raising awareness for political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens in the electoral process; and

WHEREAS, Black male veterans are disproportionately more homeless and unemployed than any other ethnic group who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces; and

WHEREAS, in 1999, Congress acknowledged that veterans of the United States Armed Forces have been and continue to be vital to the small business enterprises of the United States, though too little is still being done to assist veterans, particularly service-disabled veterans, in playing a greater role in its economy; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP's National Education Program strives to ensure that all students have access to an equal and high-quality public education by eliminating education-related racial and ethnic disparities in our public schools; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service manages the use of Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOPs) Specialists that provide intensive services to meet the employment needs of disabled veterans and other eligible veterans, and particularly veterans who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, homeless, or who have other barriers to employment. However, the unemployment rate among younger veterans is still higher than those for non-veterans, and most veterans are still not receiving priority of service as prescribed by law; and

WHEREAS, the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis has caused many veterans securing homeownership to face exploding monthly payments on adjustable rate mortgages or the prospect of foreclosure; and

WHEREAS, veterans who served in the military since the disaster on 9/11 are entitled to a public education at an institution of higher learning; however, the system for administering those benefits is still struggling to kept pace with the increased costs of tuition, living expenses, and educational books and supplies; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP is committed to eliminating the racial and ethnic disparities in our health care system that plague people of color in the United States because Black Americans continue to have the highest incidence, prevalence and mortality rates from chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as issues like HIV and infant mortality; and

WHEREAS, Black Veterans have more health problems (diabetes, prostrate cancers, high blood pressure), die younger, and are often systematically denied the same level of services and benefits as their White counterparts; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP advocates for smarter, results-based criminal justice policies to keep our communities safe, including treatment for addiction and mental health problems, judicial discretion in sentencing, and an end to racial disparities at all levels of the system; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has determined that the recent and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced increased numbers of seriously injured veterans with brain injuries, mental and post traumatic stress disorders that can contribute to drug and/or alcohol addition, obesity, depression and criminal behavior; and while some facilities of the VA Health Administration provide exemplary substance abuse disorder treatment, the availability of such treatment is inconsistent.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP include Black veterans as a targeted group within each of its National Advocacy Priorities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP call on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that it fills its VA Medical Center Minority Veterans Affairs Coordinator positions with full time dedicated personnel who have a health background; use its Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees throughout all of its units across the Nation to identify resources, services, and programs in the community that will help assist and educate veterans with health care, education, mental health and PTSD, entrepreneurship, employment, housing and homeownership, issues unique to women veterans, homeless veterans, and formerly incarcerated veterans, and provide information and access to VA benefits; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP, through its national and state conventions, and regional conferences, demonstrate its commitment to the plight of veterans by conducting annual workshops on Veterans Affairs as agreed to in its 2004 Resolution on Support for Black Veterans, in order to raise the level of awareness of the NAACP members and the American citizenry of the need to support our veterans when they return back into our communities.