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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Your Help Requested: Tell NCIL About How You Serve Veterans!

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

In preparation for 2014, the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee undertook an evaluation of itself and its effectiveness to advance veterans’ issues as they relate to independent living and to chart a course for the year and beyond.

Invest in Vets 2008 protest signIn doing so, the Subcommittee retained some existing members and added new members. In addition, the Subcommittee has been broadened though collaboration with APRIL (the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living). NCIL is collaborating with the APRIL Board and membership to establish a joint committee on veterans’ issues, with each entity maintaining their own protocol for membership.

One of the goals of the joint committee is to educate the community about CIL services, what CILs may do for veterans, and the CIL definition of independent living services. It is important to note the VA has a cap on the number of veterans who can receive IL services through the VA program, while CILs are limited only by their own resource limits. Community groups that have been contacted include: local county veterans service offices (VSOs), American Legion groups, VFW organizations, and PVA and DAV chapters. In addition, some homeless shelters may have contact with veterans and thus a prospective contact.

Some CILs are in contact with both their federal and state legislators, especially those with direct involvement in veterans’ issues, and are making them aware of CIL services to veterans. These discussions are well received by legislators because there is increasing recognition and acknowledgement of the need for community-based services for veterans.

The joint committee members believe CILs are providing more services to veterans than is generally accounted for. Several committee members have participated in multiple NCIL and APRIL workshops on veterans’ issues to discuss and learn more about IL services being provided to veterans by CILs. In order to effectively tell our story, the APRIL / NCIL Vets Joint Committee would like to hear about the work you are doing working with and serving veterans. Note: you do not have to be doing anything with the Department of Veterans Affairs or any state / federal agency that receives state / federal dollars to serve veterans.

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee will share these responses with the joint committee in the hope that the data can be used to ask for more core IL dollars. After all, by providing IL services to Veterans, we are building the capacity of our community and the more resources we have, the more work we can do to ensure that people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully.