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WHEREAS, the brave veterans and members of the United States Armed Forces provide a unique and vital service to the nation as a whole, even before the terrorists attacks of 9/11, in the preservation of freedom and liberty enjoyed by all who reside within our borders; and
WHEREAS, the US has a proud history of offering educational assistance to millions of veterans that has helped to assist them in readjusting to civilian life and boosts the economy by developing more educated citizens more capable of producing income and taxes. However, the current educational assistance program is outmoded and has not kept pace with the increased costs of tuition, living expenses, and educational books and supplies, at our Nation's colleges and universities; and
WHEREAS, the number of veterans' claims for new or increased benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has risen sharply since 2001 to more than 838,000 in 2007 with approximately 100,000 of such claims being over one year old without resolution. However, only 3.5 million veterans and survivors out of 24.5 million veterans in America are receiving compensation and pension benefits under the VA Disability Benefits System, many due to lack of awareness about VA benefits or misinformation and fear of the filing process; and
WHEREAS, suicide among veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses is a serious problem. However, many veterans fail to admit to symptoms of mental disorder due to fear of being stigmatized by the military, civilian agencies, and the public; and
WHEREAS, 23% of members of the Armed Forces on active duty and a similar percentage among members of the National Guard, acknowledge a significant problem with alcohol use. While some facilities of the VA Health Administration provide exemplary substance use disorder treatment, the availability of such treatment is inconsistent; and
WHEREAS, the Dept 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 currently 15 to 22%; 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; due in part to the maximum VA home loan guarantee limit of $144,000 being virtually useless in many parts of the country, especially in Northern California; and
WHEREAS, 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 the economy of the United States by forming and expanding their own small business enterprises;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP 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 female veterans, homeless veterans, and formerly incarcerated veterans, and information and access to VA benefits; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP use its Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees throughout all of its units across the Nation to disseminate the identified resources, services, and programs to its members who are veterans and their families; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP, through its national and state conventions, and regional conferences, continue to raise the level of awareness of the American citizenry of the need to support our veterans when they return back into our communities.