Docstoc

Status of Veterans Report - CharMeck.org

Document Sample
Status of Veterans Report - CharMeck.org Powered By Docstoc
					Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Report
April 24, 2007


Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners

Chairman
Jennifer Roberts (D) At-Large

Vice-Chairman
H. Parks Helms (D) At-Large

At-Large
Dan Ramirez (R)

District 1                      District 2                    District 3
Karen Bentley (R)               Norman A. Mitchell, Sr. (D)   Valerie C. Woodard (D)

District 4                      District 5                    District 6
Dumont Clarke (D)               Daniel Bishop (R)             Bill James (R)


Executive Leadership

County Manager
Harry L. Jones, Sr.

General Manager                 General Manager               General Manager
Janice Allen Jackson            John McGillicuddy             Bobbie Shields

Associate General Manager
Michelle Lancaster




                                                                                       1
Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Steering Committee
John Ficker, Chairman                           Robert Becker, Ex-Officio
Tom Davis, Vice-Chairman                        Lori Livingston, Ex-Officio
Howard Blackwelder                              Tony McEwen, Ex-Officio
Griffin Burton                                  Rick Schou, Ex-Officio
Kater Cornwell                                  Eric Wilson, Ex-Officio
Danny Hernandez
Madeleine Jacobs
Dr. Wynn Mabry
Fran McGinnis


Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Project Staff
Office of Veterans Services             Public Service & Information Department

Director                                Public Information Specialist
Robert L. Weeks, Sr.                    Suzanne Jeffries

Office of the County Manager

Management Fellow                       Assistant to the County Manager
Clayton T. Voignier                     Joel Riddle

Office of Strategic Organizational Improvement

Management & Budget                     Planning & Evaluation
Director                                Director                        Administrative Staff
Hyong Yi                                Leslie Johnson                  Barbara Tillman

FacFind, Inc.

Chief Executive Officer                 Director of Quantitative Services
Sandra Barritt                          William Gast


This report was prepared by the Mecklenburg County Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Project Staff. For further
information call or write:

Clayton T. Voignier
600 East Fourth Street, 11th Floor
Charlotte, NC 28202-2842
E-mail: Clayton.Voignier@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
Telephone: (704) 432-4274
Fax: (704) 336-5887
www.MecklenburgCountyNC.gov

                                                                                                                 2
Table of Contents

Section                                                                                                                          Page

List of Charts, Graphs and Diagrams................................................................                                 5

Letter from the Chairman of the SOVI Steering Committee.......................                                                      6

Introduction.............................................................................................................           7

Executive Summary...............................................................................................                    9

Process.......................................................................................................................     12
          1.   SOVI Steering Committee
          2.   External Assessment
          3.   Internal Assessment
          4.   Steering Committee Facilitation Process

Findings.....................................................................................................................      16
          A. External Assessment
             1. Demographics
                a. Overview
                b. Current Profile
                c. Who Are Our Veterans?
                   1) Age
                   2) Gender
                   3) Race/Ethnicity
                   4) Marital Status
                   5) Education
                   6) Employment
                   7) Income
                   8) Residence and Transportation
                   9) Branch of Service
                   10) Service Period
                   11) Years of Service
             2. VA Benefits
                a. Current Information Sources
                b. Desired Information Sources
                c. Current Benefits
                d. Former Benefits
                e. Never Received Benefits
             3. Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office
                a. Awareness
                b. Use of County Office
                c. Image of County Office

                                                                                                                                        3
                d. Preferences of Veterans
          B. Needs of Mecklenburg County Veterans
          C. Internal Assessment
             1. FY 2007 Program Review
                a. Veterans Claims Processing and Counseling
                b. Veterans Outreach
             2. Follow-Up Review
                a. Key Stakeholder Analysis
                b. Additional Documentation and In-Depth Work
                c. Follow-Up Review Recommendations

Recommendations...................................................................................................           46
          A. Overview
          B. Service Gaps
             1. Staffing
             2. Partnerships
             3. Technology
             4. Transportation
             5. Office Accessibility
             6. Outreach
             7. Training
             8. Communications
             9. Internal Workflow
             a. Alignment of Service Gaps with Current Services and Needs of Veterans
          C. Strategies
          D. Service Gap Relationships
          E. Steering Committee Priorities
          F. Steering Committee Recommendations

Appendices................................................................................................................   57
          A.   SOVI Charge from Board of County Commissioners
          B.   Voices of the Veterans
          C.   Branch Profile
          D.   SOVI Process Maps
          E.   Profile of SOVI Steering Committee




                                                                                                                                  4
List of Charts, Diagrams and Graphs

Chart                                                                                                                              Page

1. Veterans in Mecklenburg County........................................................................                            17
2. Age..........................................................................................................................     18
3. Age Detail...............................................................................................................         18
4. Comparison of Age Profiles..................................................................................                      19
5. Gender....................................................................................................................        19
6. Race/Ethnicity.......................................................................................................             20
7. Marital Status........................................................................................................            21
8. Education...............................................................................................................          22
9. Employment...........................................................................................................             23
10. Income..................................................................................................................         24
11. Automobile Access..............................................................................................                  25
12. Residence.............................................................................................................           25
13. Branch of Service................................................................................................                26
14. Service Period......................................................................................................             27
15. Years of Service...................................................................................................              28
16. Current Information Sources.............................................................................                         29
17. Desired Information Sources..............................................................................                        30
18. Current Benefits..................................................................................................               31
19. Former Benefits...................................................................................................               32
20. Never Received Benefits......................................................................................                    33
21. Awareness............................................................................................................            34
22. Current Use of Services......................................................................................                    34
23. Former Use of Services.......................................................................................                    34
24. Use of County Office...........................................................................................                  35
25. Preferences of Veterans......................................................................................                    36

Graph

1. Trends in Number of Clients Served, Claims Processed, and Staff.................                                                  42
2. Trends in Number of Clients Served and Claims Processed per Staff.............                                                    42
3. Trend in Total Number of Data Entry and Reporting Errors..........................                                                43

Diagram

1. Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Process......................................................                                12
2. Gaps between Current Services and Needs of Veterans...................................                                            49
3. Alignment of Service Gaps with Current Services and Needs of Veterans.....                                                        50
4. Cause-Effect Diagram of Service Gap Relationships.........................................                                        53
5. Steering Committee Priorities..............................................................................                       54


                                                                                                                                          5
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners
600 East Fourth Street
Charlotte NC 28202

Dear Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners:

It was in mid August of 2006 that we were selected to serve on the Mecklenburg County Status of Veterans
Initiative Steering Committee. We, as a group and individually, would like to thank you for this opportunity. We
came together as a group with backgrounds varying from those with long-term military careers, to those who had
never served in the military. We discovered that all of us have a common goal though, and that is to ensure that the
veterans of Mecklenburg County are aware of the services available to them, and that they have proper access to
receiving these services. We would like to thank the Board of County Commissioners for their support of this
initiative.

We would like to thank and acknowledge all of those who have helped us in the preparation of this report. We want
to thank the county staff Project Team for their work and support, and Clayton Voignier for his guidance as the
project leader.

As we began this process, we first needed to identify the population of veterans that live in Mecklenburg County.
From this information we looked to identify gaps in services that could be closed. Particular areas that were
identified include staffing, technology, partnerships, and transportation. It is our belief that these recommendations
should serve as urgent goals to be addressed in the short term because they have the greatest impact on closing gaps
in services to the veterans of Mecklenburg County. Currently, the staff is unable to perform the necessary outreach
to make veterans aware of the benefits and lack adequate time to spend with individuals to assist the veterans in
receiving these benefits. It is our belief that through improved technology we will be able to speed the process and
thus make additional staff more efficient. We have also identified transportation as an issue for many veterans in
Mecklenburg County. Many veterans now face difficulty in accessing transportation to necessary medical care. If
they are able to access transportation, often the process is difficult and inefficient.

Among other recommendations, we are asking that the Board of County Commissioners provide the local veterans
office with nine additional service officers over a three-year period. Also, we ask that additional funding be
provided to help provide better, more efficient transportation to local veterans.

Though this group came together with varying ideas, we formed a consensus on the necessary improvements that
need to be made to improve services to the veterans of Mecklenburg County. We would like to thank you again for
this appointment and the responsibilities given to us.

Sincerely,




John B. Ficker
Chairman
Mecklenburg County Status of Veterans Initiative Steering Committee




                                                                                                                     6
Introduction
The Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners has a vision for Mecklenburg County’s future.
This vision is summarized by the following statement: “In 2015, Mecklenburg County will be a
community of pride and choice for people to LIVE, WORK, AND RECREATE.” Although the
Mecklenburg County Community Vision 2015 does not specifically address veterans, the vision contains
references such as having respect for all citizens and having opportunities to share equally in the
community’s prosperity that certainly encompass serving the needs of those who have served our country
at home and overseas.

Currently, there are over 54,000 veterans living in Mecklenburg County, representing approximately 6.8
percent of the County’s population.1 When estimates of surviving spouses and dependents of veterans are
added, the population increases to over 10 percent of the County’s population.2 In addition:

    •   Mecklenburg County is ranked 1st in the state in veteran population.

    •   It is estimated that, on an annual basis, only 10 percent of the total veteran population, which
        includes veterans and surviving spouses and dependents of veterans, in Mecklenburg County
        attempt to access the County Veterans Services Office for assistance.3

These figures do not account for the increasing number of veterans returning from the Reserve and
National Guard units deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the Global War on Terror continues, veterans
from these units are expected to return to Mecklenburg and surrounding counties in increasing numbers.

Recently, the Veterans Services Office, in place to assist veterans, survivors and their families in the
presentation, processing, proof and establishment of claims, privileges, rights and benefits that they may
be entitled to under Federal, State or local laws, has seen demand for assistance to veterans increase
significantly. In fact, from 2001 to 2006:

    •   The number of veterans served has nearly doubled.

    •   The number of claims filed increased by more than 350 percent.

    •   The amount of money paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans living in
        Mecklenburg County increased by approximately 54 percent from $42 million to nearly $65
        million.

As the Global War on Terror continues, the veteran population in Mecklenburg County is expected to
grow. As this growth occurs, the County will experience an increase in demand for services to veterans.
In order to meet this demand effectively, the County must understand the issues and needs facing veterans
in our community and the current services and service levels offered by the Veterans Services Office.


1
  Source is 2005 American Community Survey.
2
  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not keep statistics on the number of dependents of veterans. The
Veterans Services Office estimates the number of dependents eligible for VA assistance is one half of the total veteran
population.
3
  Source for estimate is Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office.

                                                                                                                          7
In recognition of this growth in the veteran population and the corresponding demand for services, the
Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners approved a request by Commissioner Norman A.
Mitchell, Sr., in January 2006 for the County Manager’s Office to complete an in-depth assessment of
veterans’ issues in Mecklenburg County based on the Status of Seniors Initiative.4 This charge led to the
creation of the Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) and is satisfied with the presentation of this report to
the Board of County Commissioners. Development of this report was a collaborative effort involving:

       •   Veterans living in Mecklenburg County
       •   Local chapters of veterans services organizations
       •   Private and community-based organizations that provide services to veterans
       •   Congressional legislative offices
       •   County Government

Since this is the first report of its kind, it is a broad attempt to understand the characteristics of the
veterans living in our community and their needs. In addition, it provides specific recommendations on
how Mecklenburg County can better serve the needs and demands of the veteran population.




4
    See Appendix A for the full text of the charge.

                                                                                                           8
Executive Summary

There are an estimated 767,000 veterans currently living in North Carolina and 54,307 veterans in
Mecklenburg County.5 This represents approximately 9 percent of the total population of North Carolina
and 6.8 percent of the total population of Mecklenburg County, respectively. In addition:6

      •    North Carolina is ranked 9th in the nation in veteran population and ranked 6th in the nation for
           the percentage of veterans receiving benefits from the VA. Mecklenburg County is ranked 1st in
           the state in veteran population.

      •    North Carolina is ranked 6th in the nation in number of military retirees (77,860) and surviving
           spouses (9,076) of retirees.

      •    In 2005, these retirees and their survivors received $127.28 million per month and $1.53 billion
           per year from the Department of Defense.

      •    In 2005, the VA paid a total of $761.9 million in benefits compensation to North Carolina
           veterans. The same year, the VA paid $64.8 million to veterans living in Mecklenburg County.

Despite these large figures, the number of veterans living in the state and in Mecklenburg County reported
by the VA does not include the increasing number of veterans that are being deployed from surrounding
Reserve and National Guard units. As the Global War on Terror continues, veterans from these units are
expected to return to Mecklenburg and surrounding counties in search of assistance from federal, state and
local governments for their diverse needs. In order to meet this demand, the County must understand the
current level of awareness, makeup and needs of the total veteran population in Mecklenburg County.

Highlights of the report’s findings and recommendations include:

Demographics

      •    Most veterans in Mecklenburg County are 35-64 years of age, male, Caucasian, married,
           graduated from high school, work full time, earn an annual household income between $25,000
           and $50,000, own their own home, and have a driver’s license with access to an automobile.

      •    The majority of veterans living in Mecklenburg County served in the Army, served during the
           Korean Conflict or just following Korea, but before Vietnam, and served between two (2) and four
           (4) years in military service while few veterans have reached 20 years of service in the military.

      •    Veterans are the salt of the earth, a microcosm of the community at large, indistinguishable from
           others within this community. Veterans blend in with people of their community and in general
           are just like others living in this community. Veterans are stable members of our community and
           contribute to the well-being of Mecklenburg County.



5
    Sources are VA (www.va.gov) and 2005 American Community Survey.
6
    Sources for bulleted statistics are VA (www.va.gov) and Department of Defense (www.defenselink.mil).

                                                                                                           9
   •   Awareness is a key concern among veterans in Mecklenburg County. In fact, when expressing
       concern about awareness or providing services, veterans always expressed concern for all veterans
       in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, not just themselves. The older veterans were concerned
       about the younger veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the younger veterans were
       concerned about meeting the medical, healthcare and general needs of older veterans, disabled or
       otherwise.

VA Benefits

   •   Currently, many veterans are not receiving any information on VA benefits. Of those that do
       receive information on VA benefits, they primarily receive and prefer to receive information via
       mail. It is clear that those veterans who do not receive any information about benefits would like
       to receive such information.

   •   Veterans recognize the value of electronic information sources such as websites and email and
       want to receive information from them, even more than the local newspaper.

   •   The majority of veterans currently receive Medical Care and Disability benefits, which are the
       largest and most visible benefits offered by the VA, but the vast majority of veterans have not
       received any VA benefit, including standard Burial Benefits.

Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office

   •   Many veterans are unaware that a County office for veterans exists. Few veterans in proportion to
       the total veteran population, even the ones that know about the office, use the office as a source of
       service and information on VA benefits.

   •   Veterans in Mecklenburg County have difficulty differentiating between the VA and the County
       office as service providers. For example, veterans do not distinguish between the benefits they
       receive from the VA and the services they receive from the County office. Oftentimes, veterans
       going to the VA Hospital for services are referred back to the County office.

   •   Veterans do not perceive the County office to be a positive and responsive service provider
       possibly due to a lack of awareness and being able to differentiate between the VA Hospital and
       the County office, but also because of negative experiences with the County office such as long
       wait times for receiving VA benefits, lost paperwork for processing VA claims, and poor customer
       service. Some of these negative experiences, however, were a result of delinquent action on the
       part of the district and state offices of the VA and North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs
       (NCDVA) and not the County office.

   •   Many veterans reported positive experiences with the County office especially those that had
       worked with an experienced Veterans Services Officer. However, these veterans specifically
       related their positive experience to the individual officer with whom they worked and would not
       choose to use the County office unless that individual officer was available to see them.

   •   Many veterans would like the County office to publicize and advertise its services and information
       on VA benefits.

                                                                                                         10
   •   Internally, the County office utilizes a staffing level that has not kept pace with the increased
       number of clients served and the number of claims processed, lacks reliable data entry and
       reporting methods, and maintains processes or internal workflows that contain several
       deficiencies.

SOVI Steering Committee Recommendations

   •   The SOVI Steering Committee identified nine (9) gaps in services to veterans of which four are
       “Urgent” and require immediate attention and action (Staffing, Technology, Partnerships, and
       Transportation), three are “Elevated” and require some attention and action in the near future
       (Office Accessibility, Outreach, and Training), and two are “Moderate” and do not require any
       formal action at present, but must be monitored now for future action (Communications and
       Internal Workflow).

   •   In an effort to begin immediately addressing or closing the “Urgent” service gaps, the County
       Manager and the Board of County Commissioners should support the Veterans Services Office
       Director’s management initiatives that are either already underway or being requested with the
       understanding that some or all of these initiatives may require increased funding for the Veterans
       Services Office.

   •   The steering committee identified nine (9) strategies corresponding to each service gap that must
       be implemented to assist in addressing or closing gaps in service to veterans in Mecklenburg
       County.

   •   The steering committee recommends the following strategies be included in future legislative
       agendas transmitted from the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to the appropriate
       elected officials of the governments of the State of North Carolina and the United States:

          a. Provide the appropriate technological capabilities to the U.S. Department of Veterans
             Affairs (VA) for automating the process by which veterans services offices in each county
             in North Carolina submit individual veterans’ claims for benefits to the district and state
             offices of the VA for review and approval. The current process for submitting individual
             veterans’ claims for benefits utilized by the County Veterans Services Office is driven by
             paperwork that is manually prepared and submitted.

          b. Provide a homestead/property tax exemption authorized by the State of North Carolina for
             widows and widowers whose spouse was killed in the line of duty or died of a service-
             connected disability. Currently, at least 26 states have authorized some form of homestead
             or property tax exemption for surviving spouses and dependents of veterans.




                                                                                                      11
Process

In order to complete the charge of the Status of Veterans Initiative, a process encompassing the following
components was developed and implemented:

   1. The formation of a steering committee charged with identifying gaps in services to veterans and
      developing recommendations for addressing or closing those gaps.
   2. An external assessment of the demographics and needs of the veteran population in Mecklenburg
      County through implementation of focus groups of veterans and a representative survey of the
      total veteran population.
   3. An internal assessment of the structure, resources, and services of the County Veterans Services
      Office.
   4. A decision-making and prioritization process facilitated by staff to assist the steering committee
      with identifying and prioritizing service gaps, developing strategies to address or close service
      gaps, and finalizing recommendations.

The remainder of the section provides a detailed review of the process. In addition, the diagram below
provides a visual illustration of the process.

       Diagram 1: Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Process


                                        Report to Board of County Commissioners
                                           (Public Policy Workshop – April 24)




                         URGENT                            ELEVATED                             MODERATE




           Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap   Service Gap




                                          SOVI Steering Committee Facilitation Sessions

                                                       March 14 – April 11



                                             External                     Internal
                 Data from                                                                       Data/Gap Analysis
                                           Assessment                   Assessment
                Census & VA                                                                      Recommendations
                                         Recommendations              Recommendations


                                                September 21, 2006 – March 14, 2007




                                       SOVI Steering Committee Orientation – August 24, 2006




                                                                                                                           12
         1. Status of Veterans Initiative (SOVI) Steering Committee

         The first step in the development of the Status of Veterans Initiative was to appoint the SOVI
         Steering Committee. A diverse group of individuals from the community consisting of veterans,
         family members of veterans and representatives of non-profit organizations that work with
         veterans was identified for consideration and orientation. In addition, staff members from the
         County’s federal legislative delegation and the American Red Cross were asked to serve in an ex-
         officio capacity. The Community Health and Safety Committee of the Board of County
         Commissioners approved the SOVI Steering Committee membership at its August 15, 2006
         meeting. The SOVI Steering Committee was charged with leading the overall effort of the Status
         of Veterans Initiative, and with producing the following three deliverables:

         •    Adopt and endorse recommendations for Mecklenburg County for closing gaps in services to
              the veteran population.
         •    Provide recommendations for future involvement of the SOVI Steering Committee as an
              advocate for veterans’ issues in Mecklenburg County.
         •    Promote and market the Status of Veterans Initiative.

         2. External Assessment

         The next step was to collect qualitative and quantitative data for the SOVI Steering Committee to
         review as they sought to identify gaps in service. County staff conducted a series of focus groups
         and a telephone survey of veterans within Mecklenburg County utilizing a third-party contractor.7

         a. Focus Groups

         Three focus groups comprised of veterans and surviving spouses and dependents were conducted
         on December 4, 2006, with the breakdown of those groups as follows:

         •    Those who have accessed the Veterans Services Office
         •    Those who have not accessed the Veterans Services Office
         •    Females including both veterans and widows of veterans

         All branches of service were represented in the focus groups. Caucasians, African-Americans,
         males, females, and veterans currently working, retired, disabled, and unemployed were also
         represented.

         b. 2007 Mecklenburg County Survey of Veterans

         The focus groups were used to develop the 2007 Mecklenburg County Survey of Veterans
         conducted from January 2 – January 26, 2007. The primary objective of the survey was to collect
         data on demographics, awareness, and preferences of veterans living in Mecklenburg County. A
         secondary goal of the survey was to provide a baseline for future replication of this study with a
         high degree of confidence in the findings.

7
  FacFind, Inc., located in Charlotte, NC, is a full-service marketing research firm specializing in quantitative, qualitative,
international, marketing, motivational, and political research.

                                                                                                                                  13
           The survey was a random sample with a margin of error of +/- four (4) percent. A third-party
           contractor surveyed 653 Mecklenburg County veterans and surviving spouses and dependents of
           veterans, and they were asked questions ranging from demographic information to their use and
           knowledge of VA benefits and the County office. Finally, there was a section that allowed the
           survey respondents to provide open-ended feedback.8

           3. Internal Assessment

           County staff also conducted an internal review of the Veterans Services Office to determine
           current structure, resources and service capabilities of the County office. The internal assessment
           process is detailed by the following action plan utilized by staff:

               1) Program Review
                  • FY 2007 Annual Program Review conducted by management analysts in the Office of
                      Strategic Organizational Improvement
                  • Analysis of results and supporting documentation
               2) Follow-up Review
                  • Identify key internal and external stakeholders
                  • Obtain additional documentation, if necessary
                  • Conduct more in-depth work such as interviews and meetings with key stakeholders
                      where applicable
                  • Compile and analyze data from additional work and documentation
               3) Findings and Recommendations
                  • Present findings to internal County staff assigned to SOVI
                  • Present findings and recommendations to the SOVI Steering Committee

           4. Steering Committee Facilitation Process

           County staff led the SOVI Steering Committee through facilitation sessions to assist the
           committee in completing their charge of adopting and endorsing recommendations for
           Mecklenburg County for closing gaps in services to the veteran population. The facilitation
           process is detailed below.

           a. Review/Identify/Prioritize Service Gaps

           In order to engage the SOVI Steering Committee beyond simply adopting and endorsing
           recommendations, County staff decided to involve the committee in the review and identification
           of service gaps, which effectively placed some responsibility on the committee for completing the
           gap analysis.9 County staff performed a preliminary analysis of the external and internal
           assessments and identified and recommended several service gaps to the committee. Then, County
           staff asked the committee to determine whether the list of recommended service gaps was
           comprehensive or whether additional gaps existed and thus, needed to be identified. The
           committee reviewed and refined the list of service gaps. As a result of the committee’s review, one

8
    See Appendix B for open-ended responses.
9
    See “Recommendations” section for an explanation of the gap analysis.

                                                                                                           14
service gap was renamed, one service gap was reoriented as the desired outcome, and three
additional service gaps were identified, one of which was later folded under existing service gaps.
The committee achieved consensus on the new list of service gaps. Initially, the committee started
to prioritize the new list of service gaps, but modified the facilitation process so that the committee
could identify strategies before prioritizing service gaps. After identifying strategies, the
committee utilized a cause-effect diagram developed by staff to prioritize service gaps into Urgent,
Elevated, and Moderate statuses.

b. Identify Strategies to Address Service Gaps

Based on a review of County staff recommendations, the SOVI Steering Committee identified and
came to a consensus on several strategies in a roundtable discussion format. With assistance from
staff, the committee developed comprehensive strategies that corresponded with service gaps on a
ratio of one comprehensive strategy for each service gap.

c. Develop Committee Recommendations

With further assistance from County staff, the committee developed and adopted
recommendations for closing or addressing gaps in services to veterans in Mecklenburg County.
The next two major sections of the report provide the findings from the external and internal
assessments and the recommendations of the SOVI Steering Committee.




                                                                                                    15
Findings

     A. External Assessment

        1. Demographics

        a. Overview

        Based on the 2007 Mecklenburg County Veterans Survey, most veterans in Mecklenburg County
        are 35-64 years of age, male, Caucasian, married, high school graduates, working full time, and
        earning an annual household income between $25,000 and $50,000. Almost all veterans (90
        percent) own their own home, and 96.7 percent of veterans have a driver’s license with access to
        an automobile.

        Over half of all veterans (52 percent) in Mecklenburg County have served in the Army. The
        majority of veterans (72 percent) served during the Korean Conflict or just following Korea, but
        before the Vietnam War. In addition, over half of all veterans have served between two (2) and
        four (4) years in military service while only five (5) percent reached 20 years of service, which is
        the number of years of service when service members become eligible for retirement from the
        military with benefits.10

        For the most part, these demographic results from the survey of veterans in Mecklenburg County
        align with statistical demographic data on Mecklenburg County veterans from the U.S. Census
        Bureau and the VA. The next section of the findings examines in more detail the demographic
        results from the survey in conjunction with data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the VA.

        b. Current Profile

        According to the VA, there were 25 million veterans living in the United States in 2001.11 By
        2005, the number of veterans in the U.S. decreased by more than three percent (3 percent) to 24.2
        million. In comparison to years prior to 2001, the number of veterans in the U.S. increased by
        almost two percent (2 percent) from 1999 to 2001.

        North Carolina and Mecklenburg County have experienced similar trends in their veteran
        populations. From 1999 to 2001, the number of veterans in North Carolina and Mecklenburg
        County increased by 13 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. However, from 2001 to 2005, those
        same veteran populations in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County decreased by 1.3 percent
        and 11 percent, respectively.

        Potential explanations for these trends include the likelihood that after September 11, 2001,
        veterans were being called back into service to fight in the Global War on Terror and/or the
        possibility that more veterans are passing away than service men and women are being discharged
        from the military. Regardless of these potential explanations and despite the recent trends in
        veteran populations, the figures above on the number of veterans living in the U.S., North Carolina

10
 See Appendix C for a profile of Mecklenburg County veterans by branch of service.
11
 Unless otherwise noted, all demographic and population figures excerpted from the VA (www.va.gov) and 2005 American
Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

                                                                                                                   16
and Mecklenburg County do not include the increasing number of veterans being deployed from
Reserve and National Guard units around the country and here in Mecklenburg County. As the
Global War on Terror continues, veterans from these units are expected to return to the U.S.,
North Carolina and Mecklenburg County in increasing numbers and seek assistance from federal,
state and local governments for their diverse needs.

c. Who Are Our Veterans?

Chart 1 shows that in 2001, there were 60,969 veterans among a total population of 700,995 in
Mecklenburg County. By 2005, Mecklenburg County’s population reached 796,372 of which
54,307 were veterans. As a whole, the 2007 County survey profile of veterans is: male (92.8
percent), Caucasian (76 percent), and working full time (54.5 percent).

Chart 1: Veterans in Mecklenburg County


  62,000                                                                         820,000

                                                                                 800,000
                                    Veteran Population
  60,000
                                    County Population                            780,000

  58,000                                                                         760,000

                                                                                 740,000
  56,000
                                                                                 720,000

  54,000                                                                         700,000

                                                                                 680,000
  52,000
                                                                                 660,000

  50,000                                                                         640,000
               2001          2002            2003        2004         2005




1) Age

Results from the 2007 Mecklenburg County Veterans Survey show that veterans aged 18-64 years
account for 70 percent of veterans surveyed (see Chart 2). Nearly 17 percent of veterans are 65-74
years of age and more than 13 percent are 75 years and older. These statistics are comparable with
U.S. Census Bureau data on Mecklenburg County veterans from the 2005 American Community
Survey (ACS), which show that 72.8 percent of veterans are 18-64 years of age, 14.8 percent are
65-74, and 12.8 percent are 75 and older. Chart 3 shows a more detailed breakout by narrower age
groups.



                                                                                               17
Chart 2: Age


                                      Age
                          13.5%



                                                              18-64
                  16.6%
                                                              65-74
                                                              75+


                                                 70.0%




Chart 3: Age Detail


                              23.6%            22.7%
        25%


        20%                            18.0%
                                                       16.6%

        15%                                                    12.8%

        10%
                       5.5%
         5%
                0.2%                                                   0.7%

         0%
                Less 25-34    35-44   45-54   55-64   65-74   75-84    85+
              than 25



Comparison of the survey data with the age profile of Veterans Services Office clients reveals that
veterans aged 75 years and older are more likely to come in contact with the County’s Veterans
Services Office as a client than veterans 18-74 years of age (see Chart 4).




                                                                                                18
Chart 4: Comparison of Age Profiles


       80%                                           70.0%                            18-64
                    65.0%
                                                                                      65-74
                                                                                      75+
       60%


       40%                          25.0%
                            10.0%                            16.6%
                                                                     13.5%
       20%


        0%
                Veterans Services Office         2007 Veterans Survey
                      Database



2) Gender

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of veterans in Mecklenburg County are male (92.8 percent) (see
Chart 5). This aligns well with 2005 ACS data: 93.8 percent of veterans are male. When
comparing male and female veterans, female veterans are more likely to be African American,
single, working full time, and to have served between the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.

Chart 5: Gender


                                      Gender
                                    7%




                                                                     Male
                                                                     Female




                                              93%




                                                                                               19
3) Race/Ethnicity

Chart 6 shows that of surveyed veterans, 76 percent are Caucasian, 22.8 percent are African
American and less than one percent represent a race or ethnicity other than Caucasian, African
American and Hispanic/Latin American. This is consistent with 2005 ACS data on veterans: 70.8
percent White/Caucasian and 26.1 percent Black/African American. However, one complication is
that Hispanic/Latin American veterans are not well represented in the survey results. During the
surveying process, very few Hispanic/Latin American veterans were interviewed. Despite best
efforts, not enough Hispanic/Latin American veterans were able to be contacted in order to have a
valid representation of this ethnic group. Possible explanations for this lack of representation
include that veterans in this ethnic group opted out of participating in survey interviews and/or
were not well represented in the survey call lists. However, it is certain that this lack of
representation is not a result of language barriers as veterans surveyed could request interviews be
conducted in Spanish or English. Many of the contracted interviewers were both bi-lingual and bi-
literate. 2004 ACS data show that Hispanic/Latin American veterans constitute nearly five percent
(5 percent) of all veterans in Mecklenburg County.

Chart 6: Race/Ethnicity


                          Racial/Ethnic Composition

                                 0.8%

                22.8%




                                                                 Caucasian
                                                                 African American
                                                                 Other



                                                  76.0%




4) Marital Status

Of surveyed veterans, over 80 percent are currently married compared to the national average of
about 50 percent currently married (see Chart 7). On one hand, this statistic indicates the
possibility of a stronger support system within individual veterans’ homes, delaying the need for
seeking out services from the County’s Veterans Services Office and applying for VA benefits. On
the other hand, it is generally known that females live longer than males, so in the future there may

                                                                                                  20
        be a larger group of widows seeking out services and applying for benefits. The VA and U.S.
        Census Bureau do not track information on the marital status of veterans by counties.

        Chart 7: Marital Status


                                                Marital Status

                                             0.9%
                                         5.1%
                                     5.9%

                              7.9%                                               Married
                                                                                 Never been married
                                                                                 Widowed
                                                                                 Divorced
                                                                                 Other




                                                                  80.1%



        5) Education

        Chart 8 shows that more than one-third (35.7 percent) of veterans surveyed have graduated from
        college and about another one-third (37.1 percent) have received some college education beyond
        high school. No statistical differences can be observed between those veterans who have graduated
        from college and those who have not graduated from college. Both groups have the same profile in
        terms of age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, current employment, branch of service, and period
        of service. There is a slight difference with respect to income as veterans with college degrees are
        more likely to earn annual household incomes greater than $75,000, but this difference is much
        smaller than what is seen in the general U.S. population. This is likely due in part to the fact that
        veterans have much higher skill sets when compared to the general population, and thus obtain
        higher wages through utilization of those skills.

        Compared with 2004 and 2005 ACS data, the survey results for education are almost identical.
        2004 ACS data show 95.9 percent of veterans receiving at least a high school degree compared
        with 95.2 percent for the survey results.12 2005 ACS data on veterans who graduated from college
        (35.7 percent) is consistent with the percentage of veterans surveyed who have graduated from
        college.



12
  This figure includes the percentage sum of veterans who graduated from high school, attended some college, and graduated
from college.

                                                                                                                         21
Chart 8: Education


                                    Education
                         4.8%


         22.4%
                                                 37.1%

                                                          Some College
                                                          College Graduate
                                                          High School Graduate
                                                          Some High School




                   35.7%




6) Employment

The majority (54.5 percent) of veterans work full time and one-third (32.9 percent) are retired (see
Chart 9). Regardless of age, veterans working full time may be less likely to apply for VA medical
benefits due to coverage under their employer’s health insurance, and thus less likely to come in
contact with the County Veterans Services Office.

Only five percent (5 percent) are sufficiently disabled to be incapable of work, and although not
shown in the chart, only two veterans surveyed identified themselves as unemployed. The retired
veterans are more likely to be 75 years or older, male, have served in World War II, and have
served in the Navy. One possible explanation for the differences across employment groups is that
Navy service men and women are less vulnerable to combat situations, particularly ground
combat, during their period of service. Therefore, they tend to live longer, and thus reach
retirement in greater numbers than veterans of other service branches. The VA and U.S. Census
Bureau do not track information on the employment status of veterans by counties.




                                                                                                 22
Chart 9: Employment


                                  Employment
                        0.3%                           Works full time
                     5.1%                              Retired
                 7.2%                                  Works part time
                                                       Disability prevents working
                                                       Volunteer




                                               54.5%
        32.9%




7) Income

The broad distribution of annual household income among veterans surveyed is similar to what is
observed in the general U.S. population. Veterans with annual household incomes of between
$25,000 and $50,000 account for 47.1 percent of veterans surveyed while 21.1 percent of veterans
surveyed earn less than $25,000 annually (see Chart 10). Older veterans 75 years and older tend to
have incomes either less than $25,000 per year or greater than $100,000 per year.

According to the 2005 ACS, the median household income in inflation-adjusted dollars for
veterans is $37,351. This would appear to align generally with the survey results as the 50th
percentile for annual household income among veterans surveyed would fall in the range of
$25,000 to $50,000 per year.




                                                                                               23
Chart 10: Income


       50%
                               47.1%


       40%


       30%
                  21.1%                    19.9%
       20%
                                                         9.3%
       10%                                                           2.6%

        0%
              Less than   $25,000 to   $50,000 to   $75,000 to   More than
               $25,000     $50,000      $75,000      $100,000    $100,000



8) Residence and Transportation

Charts 11 and 12 indicate that an overwhelming number of veterans surveyed have a driver’s
license with access to an automobile (96.7 percent) and own their own home (90 percent). Less
than one percent of veterans surveyed live in an assisted living facility. A major challenge for the
County’s Veterans Services Office will be to identify these veterans along with the 3.3 percent of
veterans without driver’s licenses and/or access to an automobile in order to target them for
specialized services such as outreach assistance to homebound veterans and transportation
assistance through contracted transportation providers in the County’s Department of Social
Services.

An interesting point here is that no veterans identified themselves as homeless despite the fact that
two veterans surveyed were unemployed. Although this intuitively makes sense because the
homeless have no legitimate access to a telephone, the interesting point is that the two veterans
surveyed may have been plagued by unemployment and thus have experienced homelessness at
one time previously. Therefore, if this survey functions as a baseline for future study, it would be
worthwhile to append a question related to prior experience with homelessness in future studies of
veterans to help the County understand the trend of homelessness among veterans.




                                                                                                  24
Chart 11: Automobile Access


                             Automobile Access


                      3.3%




                                              License with access to a car
                                              No license
                         96.7%



Chart 12: Residence


                                 Residence
                       0.7%
                2.9%2.2%
             1.9%
         2.5%



                                             Owns a house
                                             Rents a house
                                             Owns a condominium
                                             Rents an apartment
                                             Lives with family / friend
                                             Lives in assisted living facility


                               90.0%




                                                                                 25
         9) Branch of Service

         Chart 13 shows that one-half (52.1 percent) of all veterans in Mecklenburg County served in the
         Army while the other half combined served in the Air Force (20 percent), Navy (18 percent), and
         Marine Corps (9.2 percent). Less than one percent served in the Coast Guard. The only observed
         difference among veterans across branches of service is that Navy veterans are older in age on
         average than veterans from other branches of service. This reinforces the explanation espoused
         earlier with regard to the retirement status of Navy veterans.

         Chart 13: Branch of Service


                  60%         52.1%

                  50%

                  40%

                  30%                                       20.0%
                                             18.0%
                  20%
                                                                            9.2%
                  10%
                                                                                          0.7%
                   0%
                            Army           Navy        Air Force       Marine      Coast Guard
                                                                       Corps



         10) Service Period

         Nearly three-quarters (71.1 percent) of veterans surveyed served the majority of their active duty
         either in the Korean Conflict or in the period just after up to the Vietnam War (see Chart 14). Over
         11 percent of veterans served in World War II. One observed difference among veterans across
         service periods is that veterans serving a majority of their active duty in Vietnam are more likely
         to be divorced than veterans serving in other service periods. Survey statistics on service period do
         not align well with 2001 and 2004 ACS data on Mecklenburg County and overall nationally with
         the exception of the percentage of veterans serving in World War II. 2004 ACS data on
         Mecklenburg County show that 11.2 percent of veterans served in World War II. Data from both
         the 2001 and 2004 ACS reveal that a majority of veterans in Mecklenburg County and nationally
         served in the Vietnam War, the Post-Vietnam Era and the Gulf War.13

13
  One possible explanation for this discrepancy is the difference in the way the question was asked across surveys. For
example, in other surveys veterans may have been asked the question about service period in a more objective manner such as
“During what service period did you first enter active military duty?” Or perhaps, the other surveys focused only on active duty
during war-time service periods. If a veteran did not serve in combat during a war, then they were not included in war-time
service periods and had to identify themselves with another service period. The County survey asked the question in a more
subjective manner in that veterans surveyed were given the option of selecting a service period in which they readily identified
themselves and perceived themselves to serve the majority of their time on active duty.

                                                                                                                             26
Chart 14: Service Period


         45%                           40.6%

         40%

         35%                                        30.5%

         30%

         25%

         20%
                11.4%
         15%
                            8.8%
                                                                    7.0%
         10%

         5%
                                                                               0.7%     0.6%     0.4%

         0%
               WW II     Betw een    Korean      Betw een      Vietnam War    Post     Gulf    Global
                          WW II      Conflict      Korean                    Vietnam   War     War on
                        and Korean              Conflict and                    Era            Terror
                          Conflict              Vietnam War




11) Years of Service

On average, veterans surveyed served seven (7) years of active duty service. The majority of
veterans served between two and four years on active duty (see Chart 15). A little over five (5)
percent of veterans surveyed achieved 20 years of service when service members become eligible
for retirement from the military with benefits.

Although Mecklenburg County veterans are nearly indistinguishable from others within their
communities in terms of owning homes, driving cars, being married, and working full time, they
are noticeably different in terms of their commitment to military service:

   •   The majority served in the Army, a branch of service that exposes its military personnel to
       ground combat situations.
   •   A large number served during a time of war, in particular the Korean Conflict.
   •   On average, most devoted several years of active duty service.




                                                                                                        27
Chart 15: Years of Service

  25%
                                    22.5%

  20%


                      15.4% 16.0%
  15%



  10%
                                                                                      6.8%           6.2%
               4.9%                                5.5%                                       5.2%
                                            4.8%          4.3%
  5%                                                                           3.9%
                                                                        2.6%
                                                                 1.5%
        0.2%
  0%
         0-1    1       2     3       4      5       6     7        8    9      10    11-19    20    21-62

                                                 Years of Service



While Mecklenburg County veterans may differ from the general veteran population in terms of
service, the demographic data reveals that, for the most part, veterans are a microcosm of the
Mecklenburg County population at large. Mecklenburg County veterans are nearly
indistinguishable from others within their community because they own their own homes, drive
their own cars, are married, and work full time.

2. VA Benefits

This section shifts away from data on demographic characteristics of the veteran population and
towards veterans’ use, awareness and preferences, focusing on how veterans are receiving
information on and utilizing VA benefits.

a. Current Information Sources

Chart 16 illustrates that currently one-third (32.5 percent) of veterans surveyed say they do not get
information regarding VA benefits from any source at all. These veterans are more likely to be 65-
74 years old, married, work part time, Caucasian, and have served in Korea. Based on survey
results about veterans’ desired information sources – how they would like to receive information
on benefits – it is evident that those veterans who do not receive any information about benefits
clearly would like to receive such information.

Currently, veterans primarily receive information about VA benefits through the U.S. Mail (30.4
percent). Veterans’ use of electronic information delivery methods – websites and email – stands
at 12.6 percent. In comparison to the general population, this level of use is low. There is a strong
likelihood that this low level of use is due to a lower comfort level with electronic information
delivery methods in terms of technical operation of such methods and perhaps less availability of
information on VA benefits via email or websites. Many veterans may have access to the Internet,
but may not understand the Internet as a source of information for VA benefits. In addition,


                                                                                                             28
veterans in the focus groups said that the VA website was complex and they gave up trying to use
it as an information source.

Chart 16: Current Information Sources


        35.0%       32.5%
                                 30.4%
        30.0%


        25.0%


        20.0%


        15.0%
                                             9.3%       9.1%
        10.0%
                                                                    6.7%
                                                                            4.1%
                                                                                     3.5%                              3.0%
         5.0%
                                                                                                 1.1%        0.6%

         0.0%
                  Do not      US Mail    Newspaper   Website   VA Office   VFW     Email    Magazine     Telephone   Other
                  receive                                                                   Newsletter
                  benefits
                information




b. Desired Information Sources

When asked how they would like to be informed about services and benefits, nearly three-quarters
(69.4 percent) of veterans surveyed said they want to receive information by mail (see Chart 17).
Mail offers the advantages of visuals without employing any knowledge or use of the Internet and
materials that can be reviewed multiple times and by other family members or caretakers.
However, it is important to note that the second most desired information sources are electronic
information sources – websites and email. Therefore, although mail provides certain advantages
over electronic information sources, veterans recognize the value of electronic sources and want to
receive information from them. Less than one percent of veterans surveyed want to physically
come to the County’s Veterans Services Office and access information there. On a final note,
results from both the focus groups and the survey reveal that veterans who are members of veteran
service organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and others seem to be more
informed and pleased with these organizations as information sources.




                                                                                                                              29
    Chart 17: Desired Information Sources


70.0%                              69.3%


60.0%



50.0%



40.0%



30.0%



20.0%

                                                   8.8%
                                                                                  7.8%
10.0%
                                        3.2%                  3.9%
                1.0%                                                    1.7%                   0.7%         0.6%     2.2%
                                                                                                                                 0.6%
0.0%
        Not Interested   US Mail   New spaper   Website   VA Office   VFW      Email      Magazine     Telephone   Other    County Office
                                                                                         New sletter




    c. Current Benefits

    The VA offers a variety of benefits to veterans, and many veterans receive them. Most commonly,
    veterans surveyed said they currently receive Medical Care (41.6 percent) and Disability (39
    percent) benefits, though some veterans may receive more than one benefit (see Chart 18). On the
    subject of current and former benefits, veterans were initially asked if they currently receive or
    have ever received benefits. Many veterans answered “no” to this question, but when veterans
    were read the list of benefits, many recanted and revealed that they currently do use or have used
    benefits. In other words, veterans associated the term “VA benefits” with only Medical Care or
    Disability benefits until the list was read. Therefore, veterans who are not in need of Medical Care
    or Disability benefits fail to immediately relate VA benefits to education and training, home loans
    or any of the other benefits. This implies that they may be eligible for benefits that they currently
    are not receiving due to a lack of awareness related to information on VA benefits.




                                                                                                                                            30
Chart 18: Current Benefits



45.0%
          41.6%
                      39.0%
40.0%



35.0%



30.0%



25.0%



20.0%



15.0%                               12.1%
                                                      9.5%

10.0%                                                              8.1%
                                                                                   5.3%          5.2%
                                                                                                            3.7%
 5.0%
                                                                                                                          1.5%
                                                                                                                                          0.8%            0.8%       0.2%          0.0%

 0.0%
        M edical   Disability   Compensat ion   VA Guarant eed      Life     VHA Healt hcare   Pension   Education   Dependency &     Vocat ional         RH        Burial      Homeless
         Care                                    Home Loan       Insurance                                  and        Indemnit y    Rehabilit ation   Insurance   Benefit s    Vet erans
                                                                                                          Training   Compensat ion                                             Assist ance




d. Former Benefits

Overall, most VA benefits do not fall into a “formerly used” category. In other words, once a
veteran is deemed eligible for and begins using or receiving a certain benefit, the veteran will
likely continue to use or receive that benefit. The two exceptions are the VA Guaranteed Home
Loan and Education and Training Assistance as they are benefits with defined and terminating
eligibility and use periods. In light of this, 26.6 percent of veterans have received Education and
Training Assistance and 24 percent have used the VA Guaranteed Home Loan program (see Chart
19).




                                                                                                                                                                                             31
Chart 19: Former Benefits

 45.0%

 40.0%

 35.0%

 30.0%                                                                                                 26.6%
                                                    23.5%
 25.0%

 20.0%

 15.0%

 10.0%
            5.3%
                                                                                                                                    4.4%
                                                               3.2%
  5.0%                  1.0%          1.1%                                                                                                                    1.9%
                                                                              0.6%                                  0.8%                                                  0.6%
                                                                                            0.2%                                                  0.6%

  0.0%
         Medical   Disability   Compensation      VA           Life     VHA Healthcare   Pension   Education   Dependency &    Vocational         RH        Burial    Homeless
          Care                                 Guaranteed   Insurance                                 and        Indemnity    Rehabilitation   Insurance   Benefits    Veterans
                                                 Home                                               Training   Compensation                                           Assistance
                                                  Loan




e. Never Received Benefits

Chart 20 reveals that the VA benefits least utilized or received by veterans surveyed are Homeless
Assistance, Burial Benefits, and Dependency & Indemnity Compensation. For Homeless
Assistance and Dependency & Indemnity Compensation, the low level of use makes intuitive
sense because these benefits assist small subsets of the veteran population. However, some aspects
of Burial Benefits are standard for veterans and surviving spouses and dependents. This might
suggest that veterans have a low level of awareness about these benefits. Nearly 57 percent of
Veterans have never received Medical Care benefits from the VA. These veterans are more likely
to receive full medical insurance through their employers, be employed full time and have higher
incomes.




                                                                                                                                                                                   32
 Chart 20: Never Received Benefits

                                                                                                                  94.7%                                         95.0%      96.6%
100.0%                                                                                 91.6%                                      91.9%
                                                                           89.0%                                                                  91.8%
                                                               85.5%
90.0%                                81.8%

80.0%
                                                   65.0%                                           67.3%
70.0%
                       58.7%
           56.9%
60.0%

50.0%

40.0%

30.0%

20.0%

10.0%

 0.0%
         Medical   Disability   Compensation      VA           Life       VHA        Pension    Education     Dependency &    Vocational      RH Insurance    Burial     Homeless
          Care                                 Guaranteed   Insurance   Healthcare             and Training     Indemnity    Rehabilitation                  Benefits    Veterans
                                               Home Loan                                                      Compensation                                              Assistance




 In summary, many veterans do not receive information on VA benefits. It is clear that those
 veterans who do not receive any information about benefits would like to receive such
 information. Of those that do receive information on VA benefits, they primarily receive and
 prefer to receive information via mail. However, veterans recognize the value of electronic
 information sources (websites and email) and want to receive information from them, more so in
 fact than from the local newspaper. The majority of veterans currently receive Medical Care and
 Disability benefits, which are the largest and most visible benefits offered by the VA, but the vast
 majority of veterans have not received any VA benefit. At least one benefit, Burial Benefits, is
 fairly standard, and most veterans should be receiving this benefit. This absence of use points to a
 lack of enough or any information on VA benefits, which validates the central finding from this
 section that veterans are not receiving information on VA benefits. The next section stays with the
 themes of use, awareness and preferences among veterans, but changes the subject focus from VA
 benefits to the Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office.

 3. Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office

 a. Awareness

 Veterans surveyed were asked: “Are you (the veteran) aware that Mecklenburg County has a local
 office to assist veterans in receiving support from the VA?” Less than two-thirds (64.6 percent) of
 veterans surveyed are aware that a County Veterans Services Office exists (see Chart 21).




                                                                                                                                                                                     33
Chart 21: Awareness



                  Awareness of Veterans Services Office




                 35.4%
                                                                   Yes
                                                                   No



                                                     64.6%




In addition, only about one-third (31.7 percent) of those veterans who are aware of this office
currently use it (see Chart 22). In fact, of all veterans surveyed, only 21 percent say they currently
use the County Veterans Services office. A little more than one-third (38.3 percent) of veterans
surveyed have used the County Veterans Services Office in the past (see Chart 23).

       Chart 22: Current Use of Services                 Chart 23: Former Use of Services

       Current Use of Veterans Services Office            Former Use of Veterans Services Office


                                 31.7%
                                                                                     38.3%
                                          Yes                                                Yes
                                          No                                                 No

                                                           61.7%
         68.3%




In both the focus groups and the survey, awareness was a key concern among veterans in
Mecklenburg County. In fact, when expressing concern about awareness or providing services,
veterans always expressed concern for all veterans in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, not just
themselves. The older veterans were concerned about the younger veterans returning from
Afghanistan and Iraq, and the younger veterans were concerned about meeting the medical,
healthcare and general needs of older veterans, disabled or otherwise.




                                                                                                   34
b. Use of County Office

Of those Veterans that are aware of the County Veterans Services Office, but do not currently use
the County office, 65.2 percent do not use the County office because they feel they have no need
(see Chart 24). Almost 12 percent of veterans surveyed go to the VA Hospital in Salisbury
directly for their needs. Only five (5) percent do not use the County office because of a negative
experience. Many veterans who said they went directly to the VA Hospital for services did so
because there is a perception that veterans should go directly to the most visible source for
services, which they consider to be the VA Hospital. In both the focus groups and the survey,
veterans in Mecklenburg County have difficulty differentiating between the VA and the County
office as service providers. For example, veterans do not distinguish between the benefits they
receive from the VA and the services they receive from the County office. Oftentimes, veterans
going to the VA Hospital for services are referred back to the County office. The distinctions
between VA Hospital services, VA benefits and County office services are critical ones that
veterans clearly do not understand.

Chart 24: Use of County Office


 70.0%
              65.2%


 60.0%


 50.0%


 40.0%



 30.0%



 20.0%                           11.7%                  9.5%
                                                                      5.6%
                                                                                      5.2%            2.8%
 10.0%



  0.0%
          No need        Go to the VA         Did not know about   Other       Too much       Not eligible
                      hospital in Salisbury      (when needed                paperwork/poor
                                                  assistance)                   service



c. Image of County Office

Up to now, the findings about the Mecklenburg County Veterans Services Office have focused on
results from the survey. Focus groups of Mecklenburg County veterans and surviving spouses
were conducted prior to the survey, and focus groups participants revealed several issues about
how they view the County office.

As referenced above, veterans in the focus groups did not distinguish between the benefits they
receive from the VA and the services they receive from the County office. Veterans that had used
the County office for services voiced displeasure with the lack of outreach, the methods of


                                                                                                             35
          outreach used by the office, and the knowledge base of employees in the County office servicing
          veterans. Of those that had a negative experience with the County office, the fear in general is how
          long they will have to wait and then perhaps discover that the County office has not processed or
          lost their paperwork. In many of these experiences, it seemed as if the primary concern for
          efficient and effective paperwork is when medical attention is needed, and there is a perception of
          a sense of urgency surrounding those situations.

          However, many veterans that had worked with an experienced Veterans Services Officer
          expressed satisfaction with their experience. Of those that had a positive experience with the
          County office, veterans specifically related it to the individual officer with whom they worked.
          Even though the experience overall was a positive one, they would not choose to use the County
          office unless that individual officer was available to see them. Although they expressed
          willingness to refer other veterans to the County office, it is a tentative willingness with the
          condition that other veterans see an informed officer, particularly an officer who is also a veteran.
          Overall though, the County office is perceived to fall short as a positive and responsive source of
          information and service.

          d. Preferences of Veterans

          When veterans were asked what the Veterans Services Office should do better to assist veterans in
          Mecklenburg County, almost half (43.6 percent) of veterans said that the County office should
          publicize the office better or increase awareness of the office (see Chart 25). This sentiment was
          validated in the focus groups as participants primarily voiced their concerns about providing
          outreach to veterans and advertising the County office. An additional one-quarter (24.7 percent) of
          veterans surveyed felt that healthcare benefits such as Medical Care and Disability should be
          increased while 17.2 percent suggested that a VA hospital should be built in Charlotte.

          Chart 25: Preferences of Veterans



Publicize better/increase awareness

                                                                                                      43.6%
       Increase healthcare benefits                                         24.7%

      Build VA hospital in Charlotte                              17.2%

             Improve County Office             4.3%

                         All is good       3.5%

   Help veterans returning from Iraq    1.6%

          Give veterans a tax break     2.1%

                              Other
                                          2.9%

                                   0%     5%          10%   15%    20%    25%       30%   35%   40%       45%




                                                                                                                36
   Veterans from the focus groups also expressed their opinions about what the County office should
   do better. To encourage veterans in Mecklenburg County to select the County office as a preferred
   service provider, focus groups participants suggested the following:

       •   Greater outreach
       •   Promote excellence in service with knowledgeable and informed Veterans Services
           Officers who are also veterans
       •   Responsiveness
       •   Adequate technology for maintaining and tracking records and outreach
       •   Positive environment, and
       •   Employee training program, including customer service training.

   When asked what characteristics they would like to see of a quality Mecklenburg County Veterans
   Services Office, focus groups participants said the following:

       •   Offer appropriate greeting to customers
       •   Adopt a customer service attitude
       •   Respect the veteran
       •   Have trained personnel
       •   Be organized, and
       •   Live up to the mission statement that should be framed and hung on the wall for each
           veteran to view.

   With regard to the County office, many veterans are unaware that one even exists. Few veterans,
   even the ones that know about the office, use the office as a source of information on VA benefits
   and services. Although most veterans feel they are not in need of the information and services
   provided by the County office, some veterans are clearly in need and yet they do not understand
   the difference in services provided by different sources, namely VA benefits, the VA Hospital, and
   the County office. Because of this misinformation and/or misunderstanding among other negative
   experiences, veterans do not perceive the County office to be a positive and responsive service
   provider, and would like the office to publicize and advertise its services and information.

B. Needs of Mecklenburg County Veterans

The findings from the external assessment reveal that veterans have needs that can be met by the
County and the Veterans Services Office. The needs as voiced by veterans are for:

   1. Information on benefits provided by the VA
      The survey results reveal that many veterans currently do not receive information regarding
      VA benefits from any source of information, and it is clear that those veterans who do not
      receive any information about benefits would like to receive such information.

   2. Adequate customer service
      Although only five percent of veterans surveyed do not use the County office because of a
      negative experience such as too much paperwork or poor customer service, focus groups
      participants emphasized this need through their suggestions for improving the County office
      including promoting excellence in service with knowledgeable and informed Veterans

                                                                                                  37
      Services Officers, offering appropriate greeting to customers, adopting a customer service
      attitude, and respecting the veteran.

   3. Timely responsiveness to accessing benefits
      Focus groups participants were asked about their experience with the County office, and of
      those who had negative experiences the most common fear was how long they will have to
      wait and then perhaps discover that their paperwork had been lost or not processed. In their
      suggestions for improving the County office, veterans emphasized responsiveness as a need.

   4. Awareness of the County office
      In both the survey and the focus groups, awareness was a key need among veterans. The
      survey results reveal that many veterans are unaware that a County office exists and prefer that
      the County office be publicized better. In fact, many veterans do not use the County office
      whether or not they are aware of the County office suggesting a need for awareness not only of
      the County office, but for services provided by the County office.

   5. Awareness of all local services for veterans
      In both the focus groups and the survey, veterans have difficulty differentiating between the
      VA and the County office. In addition, veterans do not distinguish between the benefits they
      receive from the VA and the services they receive from the County office. Veterans clearly
      need to be made aware of the different sources for different types of benefits and/or services.

   6. Outreach
      In the focus groups, veterans expressed displeasure for the level and methods of outreach
      conducted by the County. In their suggestions for improving the County office, veterans
      expressed a need for greater outreach.

   In sum, the external assessment shows that veterans are the salt of the earth, a microcosm of the
   community at large, indistinguishable from others within this community. Veterans blend in with
   people of their community and unrecognizable because they own homes, are married, work full
   time, volunteer, and in general are just like others living in this community. Veterans are stable
   members of our community and participate in the same way as do non-veterans of our community.
   They are contributing to the well-being of Mecklenburg County.

C. Internal Assessment

   1. FY 2007 Program Review

   As a result of the preliminary service evaluations completed by management analysts, an initial
   review of service evaluations conducted by a Quality Control Team for accuracy and consistency,
   and Department Director feedback and response, County staff assigned to the Status of Veterans
   Initiative extracted preliminary general recommendations deemed relevant information for the
   SOVI Steering Committee. These recommendations are detailed by each service below.

   a. Veterans Claims Processing and Counseling

   1) Set more ambitious performance targets


                                                                                                   38
   The review found that some performance targets are ambitious and focused on annual
   progress, but not all performance targets.

2) Increase the number of claims filed
   The review stated that there is an opportunity to increase the number of claims filed based on
   prior years performance.

3) Develop additional outcome measures
   The review indicated that this service has only one outcome measure.

4) Initiate and complete actions from previous assessments
   The review noted that an outside assessment of this service has been conducted within the last
   five years. Some, but not all, actions have been initiated or completed.

5) Establish a more proportionate staffing ratio
   Although the service continues to meet demand, the staffing level is trending proportionate to
   or less than the population served.

6) Automate the performance measure data tracking process
   The director is currently tracking all performance measure data manually.

7) Expedite the claims review process
   The demand for the service sometimes results in delays in clients being served and clients
   must wait. The director spends a portion of his time reviewing claims before they are
   submitted to the district office.

b. Veterans Outreach

1) Document the number of homebound and homeless veterans
   The total targeted population for outreach visits is unknown.

2) Establish outcome and efficiency measures
   There are no outcome or efficiency measures established for this service.

3) Capture and report customer satisfaction
   No actual data was reported for measuring customer satisfaction with outreach.

4) Initiate and complete actions from previous assessments
   An outside assessment of this service has been conducted within the last five years. Some, but
   not all, actions have been initiated or completed.

5) Look for more opportunities to coordinate with outside agencies
   Informal assessments have suggested that the director look for more opportunities to
   coordinate with other government and community agencies to provide accessibility to the
   office and its services.

6) Establish a more proportionate staffing ratio


                                                                                              39
   Although the service continues to meet demand, the staffing level is trending proportionate to
   or less than the population served.

7) Establish a customer satisfaction survey
   There are no customer satisfaction survey tools or data to document that customers perceive
   the service to be timely.

8) Look for more opportunities to enhance service delivery
   Look for more opportunities to enhance service delivery through further detailing of
   designated service officer responsibilities. The director has recently designated each service
   officer specific nursing homes within designated areas to conduct outreach and enhance
   service delivery.

2. Follow-Up Review

In accordance with the process developed for the internal assessment outlined in the “Process”
section of this report, County staff performed additional review of the Veterans Services Office
based on the results from Program Review.

a. Key Stakeholders Analysis

County staff identified key internal and external stakeholders as follows:

1) Internal Stakeholders
   • Social, Education and Economic Opportunity Focus Area Leadership Team chaired by
       General Manager Janice Allen Jackson
   • Communications Stakeholder Committee chaired by General Manager John McGillicuddy
   • Area Mental Health Authority
   • Department of Community Support Services
   • Health Department
   • Department of Social Services
   • Office of Strategic Organizational Improvement
   • Veterans Services Office staff

2) External Stakeholders
   • Carolinas Freedom Foundation – sponsors the Veterans Day Parade
   • Dowd House Advisory Council – convenes on preservation of the Dowd House, which is
      the WWI headquarters for Camp Green in Charlotte
   • Mecklenburg County Veterans Council – a governing body for all County veteran service
      organizations
   • North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs (NCDVA) Accreditation Committee – advises
      training policy and procedures for Veterans Services Officers
   • Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) – sponsors awards ceremonies and Flags in
      Schools project
   • City of Charlotte/Charlotte Area Transit System – offers limited transportation services to
      veterans


                                                                                              40
           In addition, although not considered key stakeholders, County staff identified capable community
           outreach locations that could be utilized to address the needs of veterans in the County.

               •    Men’s Uptown Shelter
               •    Huntersville VFW Post in North Mecklenburg
               •    Downtown Vet Center
               •    VA Out Patient Clinic in North Mecklenburg
               •    Rebound – a halfway house for homeless men located in downtown Charlotte
               •    Veteran service organizations – Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Gold Star
                    Wives, Ex-POWs, Vietnam Veterans, Blind Veterans Association, and Paralyzed Veterans
                    of America
               •    Private organizations – churches, senior citizen groups, and nursing homes such as
                    Regency Retirement Village
               •    MedAssist – Non-profit agency operated by volunteer doctors, pharmacist and nurses who
                    receive and distribute free medications from pharmaceutical companies to low income
                    citizens
               •    Employment Security Commission

           b. Additional Documentation and In-Depth Work

           County staff identified additional departmental artifacts such as client, reporting, and survey forms
           and client and claims data, developed process maps of the Veterans Services Office, and met with
           some key internal stakeholders. Findings based on additional documentation and in-depth work
           are as follows:

           1) Staffing has not kept pace with the increased number of clients served and the number of
              claims processed
              The graphs below illustrate that from 2001 to 2006, the number of clients served has increased
              nearly two-fold (99.6 percent) from 4,202 to 8,386 and the number of claims processed has
              increased over three-and-one-half times (354.2 percent) from 887 to 4,02914, while the number
              of total staff in the Veterans Services Office has increased by only one (12 percent) from eight
              to nine.




14
     No data for 2002 on the number of claims processed.

                                                                                                             41
Graph 1: Trends in Number of Clients Served, Claims Processed, and Staff




Graph 2: Trends in Number of Clients Served and Claims Processed per Staff




2) The Veterans Services Office lacks reliable data entry and reporting methods.
   Currently, data on clients served and claims processed is recorded and reported manually using
   spreadsheets and forms by the Department Director and administrative assistants. Data on
   clients served and claims processed are reported both internally to the Office of Strategic
   Organizational Improvement and externally to the North Carolina Division of Veterans
   Affairs. Graph 3 depicts the total number of data entry and reporting errors from 2001 to 2006.
   One data entry error was counted when a number entered on a spreadsheet failed to reconcile

                                                                                               42
                with a summed number in the same row or column. One reporting error was counted when a
                summed number corresponding to a heading in a row or column indicating an end-of-reporting
                period failed to reconcile with an external or internal number corresponding to the same end-
                of-reporting period on an internal or external performance report.

           Graph 3: Trend in Total Number of Data Entry and Reporting Errors




           3) Processes or internal workflows in the Veterans Services Office contain several
              deficiencies.
              After development of the process maps for the Veterans Services Office15, County staff
              engaged in a BOLO (Be On LookOut) Analysis for analyzing process mapping and found
              several deficiencies in processes including:

                •   Unnecessary steps and paper records in the claims assistance process
                •   Source of delay in quality control for the claims assistance process
                •   Repetition in determining client eligibility
                •   Source of delay and unnecessary paper records in the reporting process
                •   Long cycle time for training Veterans Services Officers
                •   Long cycle time for state and federal claims review process16

           4) A majority (6) of Veterans Services Officers are either veterans or spouses of veterans.
              In 2007, the Veterans Services Office currently employs eight Veterans Services Officers
              (sometimes referred to as Counselors) and two Administrative Assistants.

           5) Veterans Services Office employees are very satisfied with their employment experience.
              Based on the FY 2006 Employee Climate Survey Results on Veterans Services Office staff:

15
     See Appendix E for the process maps.
16
     This process deficiency is outside the County’s control.

                                                                                                          43
   •   100 percent feel that they have enough information to do their job
   •   100 percent feel good about their level of and participation in training
   •   94 percent are motivated in and satisfied with their jobs

c. Follow-Up Review Recommendations

Based on the findings from the follow-up review, County staff submitted several
recommendations for the SOVI Steering Committee to review and consider when developing their
recommendations:

1) Establish a more proportionate staffing ratio
   The number of staff has not kept pace with the number of clients served and claims processed.
   More staff will lighten demanding work loads, which will increase the quality and efficiency
   of processing claims.

2) Automate data entry and reporting methods
   The County office lacks reliable data entry and reporting methods. Automation of current
   methods will help reduce the number of manual errors and time to submission.

3) Automate the client eligibility determination process
   There are repetitive steps in the client eligibility determination process to reduce the amount of
   time spent on individual claims.

4) Develop a tailored intake process for clients
   A tailored intake process for veterans consisting of self-service stations with touch screens,
   appointment scheduling, additional and varied hours of operation, and triaging for clients with
   different needs, will increase the quality of customer service to veterans and reduce
   unnecessary steps and paper records, long cycle times, and sources of delay.

5) Require more intensive front-end training of Veterans Services Officers
   This will decrease the amount of time spent in on-the-job mentoring, which collects valuable
   time from Veterans Services Officers for handling claims and assisting veterans.

6) Utilize internal stakeholders for implementation of a communication and marketing plan

7) Utilize external stakeholders and community outreach locations for partnership and
   sponsorship opportunities

8) Advertise veteran status of staff
   In conjunction with the findings from the external assessment on the image of the County
   office, the findings from the follow-up review reveal a dissonance between what veterans in
   the community perceive about the number of Veterans Service Officers who are also veterans
   and reality. More advertising of the fact that most Veterans Services Officers are also veterans
   will bridge that difference between perception and reality.

9) Conduct meetings with Veterans Services Office staff


                                                                                                  44
Although Veterans Services Office personnel feel that they have enough information to do
their jobs and feel good about their level of training, the findings from the external and internal
assessments reveal that staff needs more information and training in certain areas of their work
and interaction with veterans. Meetings with staff to explain and discuss the findings and
recommendations contained in this report will help assuage feelings of anxiety and promote
camaraderie.




                                                                                                45
Recommendations

    A. Overview

    The Status of Veterans Initiative Steering Committee was convened for the first time on August
    24, 2006, and given the charge of developing and adopting recommendations for addressing or
    closing gaps in services to veterans in Mecklenburg County. Over the next four meetings from
    September 2006 to March 2007, the steering committee received data and information on veterans
    from the:

        •   U.S. Census Bureau
        •   U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
        •   2007 Mecklenburg County Survey of Veterans
        •   FY 2007 Program Review of Veterans Services Office, and
        •   an internal follow-up review of Veterans Services Office.

    These sources of data and information comprise the external and internal assessments conducted
    by staff and presented to the steering committee.

    Based on the results of the external and internal assessments, staff performed a condensed gap
    analysis and presented some preliminary service gaps to the steering committee. From March
    2007 to April 2007, the steering committee convened on four more separate occasions to
    brainstorm, discuss, and develop recommendations for identifying, prioritizing, and addressing or
    closing gaps in service to veterans in Mecklenburg County. The results of this process and the
    recommendations of the steering committee are presented below.

    B. Service Gaps

    The steering committee reviewed and analyzed some preliminary service gaps identified by staff
    based on the results from the external and internal assessments and a condensed gap analysis. The
    steering committee identified the following nine (9) gaps in service to Mecklenburg County
    veterans:

    1. Staffing

    The County Veterans Services Office lacks a staffing ratio that is proportionate to the growing
    population of veterans and the demand for service. This service gap currently results in an
    increasing number of veterans served and claims filed per employee and delay times in serving
    veterans and processing claims. If this service gap is not addressed, the number of veterans served
    per staff member, the number of claims filed per employee, quality of service, and service delay
    times will continue to increase. Veterans will continue to be discouraged from seeking out
    information and services from the County office.

    2. Technology

    The County office lacks an automated system or process for maintaining, tracking and reporting
    on veterans and departmental performance measures. This service gap currently results in valuable


                                                                                                    46
time and effort wasted by the Director and employees on reporting activities to the State office and
performance measures internally. Veterans are receiving inadequate and untimely customer
service. If this service gap is not addressed, the Director and employees will continue to waste
valuable time and effort on manual data entry, tracking, and reporting potentially leading to
disgruntled employees and increased job turnover. Veterans will continue to receive inadequate
and untimely service delivery and thus, express continued dissatisfaction with the County office.

3. Transportation

The VA does not provide adequate assistance in obtaining transportation to routine medical
appointments and veterans’ service locations, including the VA Hospital in Salisbury, the VA
Outpatient Clinic in Charlotte, and the County’s Veterans Services Office. Although the County
offers some transportation assistance through contracted services, the service lacks efficiency and
effectiveness in transporting a sufficient number of veterans in a timely manner to their
appointments or to veterans’ service locations. This service gap currently results in a lack of
awareness of veterans’ service locations. Veterans are unable to arrive at their medical
appointments on time or at all, potentially canceling out the medical benefits they receive. If this
service gap is not addressed, veterans will become further disengaged from the services of the
County office. Veterans will be unable to utilize the medical and health-related benefits they
receive without sufficient means of transportation to veterans’ service locations. Without the
necessary medical care, the health of the veteran will decline.

4. Training

County office employees are perceived to lack the necessary expertise and knowledge in the areas
of customer service and mental health sensitivity to be able to assist veterans in properly and
effectively processing claims and providing outreach. This service gap currently results in veterans
using other sources for assistance with accessing veterans’ benefits or filing claims on their own.
Veterans are hesitant to seek out assistance from the County office. In addition, this service gap
causes delay times in serving veterans and processing claims. If this service gap is not addressed,
service delay times will continue to increase. Veterans will continue to shun the County office as a
source of assistance with veterans’ benefits, which will result in more veterans having their claims
denied because many veterans lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to adequately file their
claim.

5. Outreach

Thirty-five percent (35 percent) of veterans in Mecklenburg County are unaware that a County
office exists to serve veterans. Only 32 percent of veterans that are aware currently use the County
office as a source of information and service. This service gap currently results in veterans using
other sources for services and information on veterans’ benefits. This low level of awareness fuels
a negative image of the County office and County government in general among veterans with
regard to being a responsive service provider and demonstrating that the County cares about its
veterans. An undocumented target population exists, which is vital for outreach. If this service gap
is not addressed, veterans run the risk of getting incorrect, unreliable and/or non-specific
information from other sources. The County will continue to have a negative image among
veterans, further disengaging them from the services of the County office.


                                                                                                 47
6. Communications

Thirty-three percent (33 percent) of veterans in Mecklenburg County currently do not receive any
information on veterans’ benefits. These veterans are more likely to be aged 65-74, married, work
part-time, Caucasian, and have served in the Korean conflict. This service gap currently results in
veterans being uninformed about their eligibility for obtaining veterans’ benefits. Without
sufficient information, veterans are unable to access benefits and thus, realize potential household
cost-savings. If this service gap is not addressed, veterans will continue to be unable to access
benefits. Potential household cost-savings will go unrealized, unnecessarily diverting the veteran’s
limited income to pay for needs that could be taken care of with health-related benefits, such as
medical insurance and doctor visits. Without the necessary household income to survive, the
veteran will become vulnerable to health problems. If left unchecked, the veteran will become
susceptible to homelessness.

7. Partnerships

The County office does not fully engage current and potential, internal and external service
partners such as DSS, Area Mental Health, Public Health, City of Charlotte, CATS, and area
hospitals and clinics in providing services to veterans. This service gap currently results in
veterans failing to receive a full continuum of services from identifying needs to getting
information and advice about treatment and/or service options to accessing and receiving
appropriate treatment and services. If this service gap is not addressed, veterans will be unable to
learn about, access, and receive appropriate treatment and services. Their healthcare and lifestyle
needs will not be addressed and met, thus intensifying their susceptibility to declines in health.

8. Office Accessibility

The County office’s hours of operation are limited to 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, and the
County office operates out of a single physical location situated on the second floor of the Hal
Marshall Building on North Tryon Street. This service gap currently results in a lack of awareness
and usage of the County office as a source of information and services. This discourages veterans
from seeking out information and services from the County office. This service gap creates a
negative image of the County office as a responsive service provider. If this service gap is not
addressed, veterans run the risk of getting incorrect, unreliable and/or non-specific information
from other sources. The County office will be unable to expand its veteran database, which is
necessary for service provision.

9. Internal Workflow

The claims processing service is less than optimally designed and presents some difficulty in
meeting demand for the service. This service gap currently results in delays in veterans being
served and valuable time and effort wasted by the Director on reviewing each individual claim. If
this service gap is not addressed, delays in veterans being served will continue. The workflow
design will adversely impact service delivery as demand for the service increases.




                                                                                                 48
a. Alignment of Service Gaps with Current Services and Needs of Veterans

In order to begin closing or addressing service gaps, it is essential to understand what a gap
analysis is and how it reveals underlying gaps. In business terminology, a gap analysis is an
assessment of business resources that enables an organization to compare its actual performance
with its potential performance. If an organization is under-utilizing current resources or forgoing
investment in capital or technology, then it may be performing at a level below its potential. The
goal of a gap analysis is to identify the gap between the optimized allocation and integration of
resources and the current level of resource allocation. This helps provide an organization with
insight into areas that have room for improvement. Essentially, the gap analysis involves
determining the variance between business requirements and current capabilities.

In the public sector, the basic concept of a gap analysis is the same except for the terminology. For
a city or county, the optimal resource allocation or business requirement is an allocation of
resources that meets the needs of its citizens as defined by citizens through their elected officials.
In this case, performance is measured by how well the city or county is meeting the needs of its
citizens. Thus, a gap analysis for a city or county would involve comparing current resource level
with a resource level required to meet the needs of its citizens, and a gap would be defined as the
variance between citizen needs and current resources. The point of variance provides insight into
an area that needs improvement.

Diagram 2: Gaps between Current Services and Needs of Veterans


                                                                                                         External Assessment & Steering Committee Facilitation


                                                                                                                                NEEDS OF VETERANS
                                                                                            Awareness   Adequate   Timely        Sufficient    Sensitivity   Information   Continuum     Awareness
                                                                                            of County   Customer   Response      Transport     to Mental     on VA         of Services   of All Local
                                                                                            Office      Service    for Claims    to Services   Health        Benefits                    Services
                                                                                                                   Processing                  Issues

                                                                              Veterans
   Internal Assessment & Steering Committee Facilitation




                                                                              Claims
                                                                              Processing
                                                                              and
                                                                              Counseling


                                                                              Veterans
                                                                              Outreach


                                                                              Mecklenburg
                                                           CURRENT SERVICES




                                                                              Transport
                                                                              Service

                                                                              Area Mental
                                                                              Health
                                                                              Services

                                                                              Public
                                                                              Health
                                                                              Services


                                                                              Social
                                                                              Services



                                                                              Non-County
                                                                              Services
                                                                              (CATS,
                                                                              City, VA)




                                                                                                                                                                                                        49
Based on the descriptions provided under each service gap above, and borrowing from this
terminology for the SOVI Steering Committee, a service gap is defined as the variance between
the needs of veterans and current services. Diagram 2 illustrates the variances or gaps between
current services provided locally and extracted from the internal assessment and facilitation of the
steering committee and the needs of veterans as understood from the external assessment and input
from the steering committee using a color-coded system. The red areas indicate “Urgent” gaps that
require immediate attention and action. The yellow areas are “Elevated” gaps that are likely to
require some attention and action in the near future, and green areas are “Moderate” gaps where
no action is required at present, but which must be continuously monitored.

Diagram 3 depicts the alignment of service gaps as identified by the steering committee with
current services and the needs of veterans. The service gaps highlight areas that need
improvement. Improvements in these areas will assist in closing or addressing the service gaps,
and in the next section strategies identified by the steering committee facilitate those
improvements. The color-coded service gaps in this diagram follow a similar system as in the
previous diagram, and are explained more fully under later sections titled “Service Gap
Relationships” and “Steering Committee Priorities.”

Diagram 3: Alignment of Service Gaps with Current Services and Needs of Veterans


                                                                                                         External Assessment & Steering Committee Facilitation


                                                                                                                                NEEDS OF VETERANS
                                                                                            Awareness   Adequate   Timely        Sufficient     Sensitivity   Information   Continuum     Awareness
                                                                                            of County   Customer   Response      Transport      to Mental     on VA         of Services   of All Local
                                                                                            Office      Service    to Claims     to Services    Health        Benefits                    Services
                                                                                                                   Processing                   Issues

                                                                              Veterans
   Internal Assessment & Steering Committee Facilitation




                                                                                                             STAFFING
                                                                              Claims
                                                                                                           TECHNOLOGY
                                                                              Processing
                                                                              and                            TRAINING                                  TRAINING
                                                                              Counseling          OFFICE ACCESSIBILITY
                                                                                                       INTERNALWORKFLOW
                                                                              Veterans       STAFFING
                                                                              Outreach      OUTREACH        TRAINING             OUTREACH                                   OUTREACH
                                                                                                                                                               COMMUNI-                    COMMUNI-
                                                                                                  OFFICE ACCESSIBILITY                                          CATIONS                     CATIONS

                                                                              Mecklenburg                                       PARTNERSHIPS                                   PARTNERSHIPS
                                                           CURRENT SERVICES




                                                                              Transport
                                                                                                                                 TRANSPORT-
                                                                              Service                                              ATION

                                                                              Area Mental                                                      PARTNERSHIPS                    PARTNERSHIPS
                                                                              Health                                                             TRAINING
                                                                              Services

                                                                              Public                                                                                           PARTNERSHIPS
                                                                              Health
                                                                              Services


                                                                              Social                                                                                           PARTNERSHIPS
                                                                              Services



                                                                              Non-County
                                                                                                                                                                               PARTNERSHIPS
                                                                              Services
                                                                              (CATS,                                             TRANSPORT-
                                                                              City, VA)                                            ATION




                                                                                                                                                                                                         50
C. Strategies

In order to address or close service gaps, the steering committee discussed and developed broad
strategies that would also help the steering committee prioritize service gaps. The steering
committee identified the following nine (9) strategies that directly assist in addressing or closing
the gaps in service:

     Service Gap                                      Recommendation
 1. Staffing              Increase staffing of the Veterans Services Office to address the
                          increased volume of clients served and claims processed and to address
                          more aggressive outreach.
 2. Technology            Improve technology through automation of paperwork and greater
                          access to the Internet to increase productivity and client self-service
 3. Transportation        Conduct a feasibility study for offering a County-operated
                          transportation service to veterans that transports veterans to and from
                          veterans’ service locations and personal trips and appointments medical
                          in nature.
 4. Training              Include Veterans Services Officers in County-operated customer
                          service training opportunities and developing special training for
                          Veterans Services Officers to be able to identify and better serve clients
                          with special considerations and disabilities, in particular veterans with
                          Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
 5. Outreach              Pursue outreach methods more aggressively to identify and serve
                          previously underserved potential clients and special populations
                          including widows, war widows, the homeless, and blind and disabled
                          veterans.
 6. Communications        Support the internal communications plan for the Veterans Services
                          Office developed in conjunction with Community Support Services and
                          Public Service and Information departments and the recommendations
                          from the focus groups and the survey to improve marketing of the
                          Veterans Services Office and increase awareness of the services that
                          the office provides.
 7. Partnerships          Leverage partnerships with Department of Social Services (DSS), Area
                          Mental Health (AMH), Public Health, City of Charlotte, Charlotte Area
                          Transit Service (CATS) and area hospitals and clinics to ensure a full
                          continuum of services to veterans.
 8. Office                Improve office accessibility by offering more flexible hours of
    Accessibility         operation such as late evening and weekend hours, and studying the
                          feasibility of remote, satellite, and/or mobile office locations around
                          Mecklenburg County
 9. Internal Workflow     Simplify, re-engineer and automate internal workflow processes to be
                          customer-focused.




                                                                                                 51
D. Service Gap Relationships

In addition to identifying strategies, the steering committee utilized a cause-effect diagram
developed by staff and demonstrating the relationships between and among service gaps in order
to help the steering committee prioritize service gaps in a strategic manner using the following
process:

1. The steering committee oriented Quality Customer Service as the desired outcome from
   implementing strategies and thus, addressing or closing gaps in service.

2. Service gaps that directly affect the desired outcome – Internal Workflow, Training, Office
   Accessibility, Outreach, Communications, Partnerships, and Transportation – were segmented
   into two categories: Business-Oriented and Customer-Oriented. Business-Oriented service
   gaps are gaps in service that subtract value from the internal business operations of the
   Veterans Services Office. Customer-Oriented service gaps are gaps in service that subtract
   value from services provided directly to the customer or veteran either through the County
   Veterans Services Office or other County and local services. Both categories of service gaps
   were then illustrated to show effect on the desired outcome.

3. Service gaps that indirectly affect the desired outcome – Staffing, Technology, Training,
   Partnerships, Transportation, Office Accessibility, and Outreach – through their direct effects
   on other service gaps were identified and illustrated.

4. Service gaps were ranked from those having the most number of effects, direct or indirect, to
   those having the least number of effects using a color-coded system: red service gaps had
   three or more effects on the desired outcome, yellow service gaps had two effects, and green
   service gaps had one total effect. The diagram below illustrates this process.




                                                                                               52
Diagram 4: Cause-Effect Diagram of Service Gap Relationships



                                                                                         Desired
   Category                                 Service Gaps
                                                                                         Outcome


                   INTERNAL                                         OFFICE
                                       TRAINING
                  WORKFLOW                                       ACCESSIBILITY


                              TRAIN                 TECH     TRANS                TECH
               TECH
   Business-
   Oriented                                                      STAFF
                STAFF
                                      P-SHIPS

                                                                                          Quality
                                                                                         Customer
                                                                                          Service
                TECH
                                OFF
                               ACCESS                STAFF              P-SHIPS
  Customer-
   Oriented    STAFF
                                                  TECH               TRANSPORTATION
                                      OUT


                 OUTREACH         COMMUNICATIONS         PARTNERSHIPS




E. Steering Committee Priorities

Based on the color-coded system of ranking service gaps from the cause-effect diagram, the
steering committee prioritized service gaps from high to low based on the level of urgency for
addressing or closing service gaps. Since red service gaps – Staffing, Technology, and
Partnerships – had three or more effects on the desired outcome, they were identified as having the
most collective impact on the desired outcome. Thus, the red service gaps possess the highest level
of urgency for needing to be addressed or closed. They are labeled as “Urgent” because they
require immediate attention and action. The yellow and green service gaps are positioned
respectively as “Elevated” (likely to require some attention and action in the near future) and
“Moderate” (no action required at present, but must be continuously monitored) behind the red
service gaps in terms of their level of urgency for needing to be addressed or closed. The one
exception to the color-coded system is the Transportation service gap. The steering committee
deemed that although the Transportation service gap does not exhibit the same amount of impact
on Quality Customer Service as the red service gaps, it qualifies as an “Urgent” service gap due to
the intense dissatisfaction with transportation services expressed by veterans in Mecklenburg
County to local chapters of veteran service organizations and Congressional offices. The diagram
below represents an illustration of the steering committee’s priorities.




                                                                                                    53
Diagram 5: Steering Committee Priorities




                       URGENT                  ELEVATED                   MODERATE



                        STAFFING
      SERVICE GAPS




                                                  OFFICE
                                               ACCESSIBILITY
                      PARTNERSHIPS                                      COMMUNICATIONS

                                                 OUTREACH
                                                                            INTERNAL
                      TECHNOLOGY
                                                                            WORKFLOW

                                                  TRAINING
                     TRANSPORTATION




F. Steering Committee Recommendations

Based on the service gaps, strategies, and priorities identified above, the steering committee
recommends the following in order to achieve the desired outcome of Quality Customer Service in
a strategic manner:

1. The red service gaps of Staffing, Technology, and Partnerships and the yellow service gap of
   Transportation require immediate attention and action for addressing or closing these service
   gaps.

2. In an effort to begin immediately addressing or closing the “Urgent” service gaps of Staffing,
   Technology, Partnerships, and Transportation, the County Manager and the Board of County
   Commissioners should support the following management initiatives with the understanding
   that some or all of these initiatives may require increased funding for the Veterans Services
   Office:

   a. For the Staffing service gap, add nine (9) total positions to the current staffing level in the
      Veterans Services Office over a three-year period: four additional Veterans Services
      Officers in FY08, two additional Veterans Services Officers and one additional


                                                                                                  54
       Administrative Support position in FY09, and two additional Veterans Services Officers in
       FY10.

   b. For the Technology service gap, replace or upgrade the antiquated VetRex software system
      currently used to manage customer information. A new or upgraded system similar to the
      one currently used by the Women’s Commission should be considered.

   c. For the Partnerships service gap, enhance current partnerships with local Reserve and
      National Guard organizations, the Charlotte Vet Center, DSS, military service
      organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and several
      nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and independent living facilities, and expand new
      partnership opportunities to AMH and community-based mental health providers.

   d. For the Transportation service gap, utilize the Mecklenburg Transportation Service (MTS)
      through partnership with DSS to offer veterans new transportation service options
      including but not limited to free CATS bus passes for veterans, new MTS bus routes for
      veterans for transportation to the VA Hospital in Salisbury through coordination with
      Gaston, Iredell, and Catawba counties, and increased funding for long-distance travel for
      veterans to VA hospitals and clinics outside Mecklenburg County either directly from
      County dollars to MTS or revenues from the half-cent sales tax.

3. The yellow service gaps of Office Accessibility, Outreach, and Training require some attention
   and action in the near future for addressing or closing these service gaps.

4. The green service gaps of Communications and Internal Workflow do not require any formal
   action at present, but must be monitored now for future action for addressing or closing these
   service gaps.

5. The nine (9) identified strategies must be implemented to assist in addressing or closing gaps
   in service to veterans in Mecklenburg County.

6. In understanding that the County has limited direct control over certain as yet unidentified
   strategies for addressing or closing service gaps and for providing quality customer service to
   veterans in Mecklenburg County while at the same time recognizing that those strategies fall
   under the purview and authority of the State of North Carolina and the government of the
   United States, the steering committee recommends the following strategies be included in
   future legislative agendas transmitted from the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners
   to the appropriate elected officials of the governments of the State of North Carolina and the
   United States:

   c. Provide the appropriate technological capabilities to the U.S. Department of Veterans
      Affairs (VA) for automating the process by which veterans services offices in each county
      in North Carolina submit individual veterans’ claims for benefits to the district and state
      offices of the VA for review and approval. The current process for submitting individual
      veterans’ claims for benefits utilized by the County Veterans Services Office is driven by
      paperwork that is manually prepared and submitted.



                                                                                               55
d. Provide a homestead/property tax exemption authorized by the State of North Carolina for
   widows and widowers whose spouse was killed in the line of duty or died of a service-
   connected disability. Currently, at least 26 states have authorized some form of homestead
   or property tax exemption for surviving spouses and dependents of veterans.




                                                                                          56
Appendices




             57
                                    Appendix A

SOVI CHARGE FROM BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

        2006 Strategic Planning Conference - Board Open Discussion

    TOPIC:             Comprehensive Review of Veterans’ Issues in Mecklenburg County

    REQUESTOR:         Commissioner Norman A. Mitchell, Sr.

    GOAL:              To complete an in-depth assessment of veterans’ issues in Mecklenburg
                       County. Included in this assessment would be an evaluation of the service
                       delivery mechanisms currently in place, a comprehensive review of gaps in
                       service with recommendations for eliminating these gaps and an outreach
                       plan to make certain all veterans in the community are accessing County
                       services whenever possible.

                       The Status of Senior Initiative could serve as the template to guide this
                       assessment. The end result should provided a comprehensive review of
                       veterans’ issues just as the Status of Seniors Initiative provided an in-depth
                       review of senior issues

    REQUESTED              To have the Board receive this as information
    ACTION at the          To seek input and feedback from other Board members
    Planning               To direct the County Manager to follow up with additional research
    Conference:            To refer the matter to a Board committee
                           To direct the County Manager to develop a plan around the goal
                           Other (Please provide additional information below)

    ATTACHMENTS: Table of Contents from Status of Seniors Report




                                                                                                   58
                                           Appendix B

VOICES OF THE VETERAN
During the survey, quotes from those surveyed were captured. Shown below are unedited statements
recorded:

   •   Advertise the local office. I didn't even know that one existed.
   •   Better education on benefits that are available
   •   Better info about how to order medication ... all of the step by step procedures need to be
       explained and especially to spouses.
   •   Expand local medical office-medical services
   •   Have more outreach to veterans about available services
   •   Have people that check on homebound veterans. That means personal visits to their homes
   •   I need help w/claim for back injury and most importantly I need to know if they can help. Hope
       the local office can give me information
   •   Keep veterans more up-to-date on what benefits are available and any changes in availability
   •   Make it easier to find information about benefits. Send out newsletters
   •   Make more benefits for beneficiaries and make it easier to apply for services. Less red tape.
   •   Make people more aware of local office so others don't think they have to go to Raleigh
   •   Make public knowledge of benefits and how to receive them more accessible to veterans and
       families
   •   Make sure veterans are reminded of benefits and eligibility as they get older and we need a VA
       hospital nearby
   •   Make veterans aware, especially spouses of veterans who may not even know what questions to
       ask
   •   Provide affordable life insurance for veterans
   •   Send out reminders to people who have been out of the service for a while because they forget
       about what is available-it is on-going awareness
   •   Veterans should know as soon as they are discharged and if there is a time limit on using the
       benefits
   •   We can do a lot more for our Veterans to make sure the men/women coming back from Iraq are
       treated better than the ones that came back from Vietnam
   •   We need better local facility. Put out more info about benefits.
   •   Treat veterans right




                                                                                                  59
                                                             Appendix C

PROFILE BY BRANCH


                                                                          Army         Navy         Air Force    Marine Corps Coast Guard
Age                             Less than 25                                      0%           0%           0%            0%          0%
                                25-34                                             6%           3%           7%            4%          0%
                                35-44                                            26%          16%          20%           32%         29%
                                45-54                                            18%          23%          17%           11%         58%
                                55-64                                            24%          16%          23%           27%          0%
                                65-74                                            15%          18%          21%           14%          0%
                                75-84                                            11%          24%          10%            9%         12%
                                85+                                               0%           1%           2%            2%          0%
Gender                          Male                                             93%          95%          89%           96%        100%
                                Female                                            7%           5%          11%            5%          0%
Ethnicity                       Caucasian                                        72%          85%          78%           74%        100%
                                African American                                 27%          14%          20%           26%          0%
                                Hispanic                                          0%           0%           1%            0%          0%
                                Asian                                             0%           0%           0%            0%          0%
                                Mixed / Other                                     1%           1%           1%            0%          0%
Employment                      Work full time                                   57%          47%          51%           58%         88%
                                Work part time                                    8%           5%           9%            3%          0%
                                Retired                                          28%          46%          37%           29%         12%
                                Disability prevents working                       6%           2%           3%           11%          0%
                                Volunteer                                         1%           0%           0%            0%          0%
Income                          Less the $25,000                                 23%          25%          18%           14%          0%
                                $25,000 to $50,000                               48%          46%          49%           41%         33%
                                $50,000 to $75,000                               18%          19%          20%           34%         33%
                                $75,000 to $100,000                               9%           7%           9%           10%         33%
                                More than $100,000                                2%           3%           4%            2%          0%
Education                       Some High School                                  5%           6%           4%            5%          0%
                                High School Graduate                             24%          20%          17%           29%         42%
                                Some College                                     37%          35%          42%           35%         29%
                                College Graduate                                 35%          39%          37%           31%         29%
Period of Service               WWII                                             10%          23%           9%            9%         18%
                                Between WWII and Korean Conflict                  8%          12%           7%           10%          0%
                                Korean Conflict                                  44%          37%          46%           35%          0%
                                Between Korean Conflict and Vietnam War          29%          22%          32%           39%         83%
                                Vietnam War                                       8%           5%           4%            8%          0%
                                Post Vietnam Era                                  0%           2%           0%            0%          0%
                                Gulf War                                          1%           0%           0%            0%          0%
                                Global War on Terror                              0%           0%           1%            0%          0%
                                Don't know                                        0%           0%           0%            0%          0%
Disability                      No Benefit Currently                             58%          70%          62%           38%         58%
                                Receives Benefit Currently                       42%          31%          38%           63%         42%
Medical                         No Benefit Currently                             59%          56%          61%           42%         58%
                                Receives Benefit Currently                       41%          44%          39%           58%         42%
Aware of Meck Co Offices        Yes                                              64%          64%          65%           69%         71%
                                No                                               36%          36%          36%           31%         29%
Currently Use Meck Co Offices   Yes                                              31%          30%          31%           40%         41%
                                No                                               69%          70%          69%           60%         59%
Previously Used Meck Co         Yes                                              39%          38%          30%           49%         70%
                                No                                               61%          63%          70%           51%         30%




                                                                                                                                      60
                                                                                          APPENDIX D
                                                               Veterans Services Office Processes Map
                                                                                                                                                                        Client assisted with:
                                                                                                                                                   No                                                     Yes
                                                                                                                                                                        -Military Document                            VETREX/VA                     Client
                                       Yes
                                                                                                                                                                         Requests                                       Forms                     Signature
                                                                             Personal            VETREX                                                                 -Hunting/Gaming                                 Entry
                                                 REG cc’s VET               Information            Data                                                                  Licenses
(Client Signature)
                                                                                                                            File claim?
                                                                               Sheet               Entry                                                                -NCDVA Scholarships
  35-60 minutes


                                                                                                                                                                        -Vendor Licenses
    Assistance




                                                                                                                                                                        -Claim Status                                                              VETREX
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Diary/Visit
      Claims




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Entry/Update
                                                 VET mail-out
                     Client rcv   File w/ REG?
                                                                                No            Yes                           No                     Yes
                      DD214

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Client Folder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Create/Update



                                                                                                                Update
                                                 Client visit &           Return visit?                                                     POA to VET?                       Eligible?                                                            Claim
                                       No                                                                    Information?
                                                    Sign-in                                                                                                                                                                                        Review
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Submittal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No Claim Filed
                                                                                              Yes                                   No                         Yes                                      No



                                                 VSO Monthly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Director Review?
                                                   Counts
                                                                                                                                                                          Client Potential
                                                  Compiled
      30 minutes




                                                                                                                                                                          Eligibility
       Reporting




                                                                                                                                                                          Determination:
         VET




                                                                                                                                                                          -DD214 Review
                                                 EOM Activity                                                                                Client assigned              -Service Period
                                                  Reporting          Review & Entry          Reports Filed                                        VSO                     -Discharge Character                                         95%                       5%
                                                                                                                                                                          -Disabilities/Injuries                                       Yes                       No
                                                                                                                                                                          -Widow/widower
                                                                                                                                                                          -Income level

                                                                                                                   National CEU                                       Annual CEU
                                                                                                                      Offsite                                            Offsite
                                                                                                                  (32 hrs – opt.)                                       (32 hrs)
      Training




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Courier Out               VSO Review
      months
       VSO

        3-12




                                                                         NCDVA             OTJ Training            OTJ Training                                         NCDVA
                                                   VET hires
                                                                     Training Manual      (Job Shadow)              (Mentoring)                                          Annual
                                                     VSO
                                                                       (8-12 wks)          (2-3 weeks)             (< or = 1 yr.)                                    Refresh Course




                                                  District Office
                                                                                          Confirm Letter
                                                 Evidence Review             Yes
                                                                                            To Client
                                                    (Charlotte)
  External Claims




                                                                                                                          VET has POA?
                                                                                                                                                                                                             LEGEND
   6-12 Months




                                                   State Office
                                                 Evidence Review             No
      Review




                                                                                          Denial Letter
                                                  (W-S) (5 days)                                                                                                                          - Process                             - Data Entry
                                                                                           To Client



                                                  VA Eligibility &                                                                                                                        - Positive Connector                  - Paper
                                                  Comp Review                                                        No                      Yes
                                                     (W-S)

                                                                                                                                                                                          - Negative Connector                  - Manual Entry
                                                                                                                                     Confirm/Denial
                                                                                                                                        Letter to
                                                    Approved?                                                                             VET                                                                                   - Terminate
                                                                                                                                      (30-45 days)                                        - Decision

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Alternate
                                                                                                                                                                                          - Directional process
                                                                                                                                         Client Folder                                                                           Process
                                                                                                                                            Update                                           arrows




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        61
                                                              Client Potential Eligibility Determination Process Map*




                                                                                             VA Home Loan
                                                                                               Guarantee




                                                                                                  Yes


                                                                            Honorable
                                                                                                                                  Disability?
                                                                             Service?




                                                               Yes                                 No                       No                  Yes




                                                 Client has                                                                       Service-              Disability
                          Client assigned                                                     Not eligible
                                                  DD214?                                                                         Connected?           Compensation
                               VSO




                                                                No            No                  Yes                       No                  Yes




                                                                         Surviving spouse    Standard Burial                                             Medical
                                                                                                                                 Low-income?
                                                                           /dependent?          Benefits                                              Nursing Homes




                                                                                                                                                      Disability/Death
                                                                                                                            No                  Yes      Pension




                                                                                                                                                                         LEGEND


                                                                                                                                                      - Process                      - Data Entry



                                                                                                                                                      - Positive Connector           - Paper



                                                                                                                                                      - Negative Connector           - Manual Entry


                                                                                                                                                                                     - Terminate
                                                                                                                                                      - Decision

                                                                                                                                                                                     - Alternate
                                                                                                                                                      - Directional process
                                                                                                                                                                                      Process
                                                                                                                                                        arrows



Explanation of Acronyms:

CEU – Continuing Education Units               NCDVA – NC Division of Veterans Affairs                         REG – Register of Deeds                                   VETREX – VET computer tracking system
DD214 – Veteran discharge form                 OTJ – On the job                                                VA – U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs                       VSO – Veterans Services Officer
EOM – End of Month                             POA – Power of Attorney                                         VET – Veterans Service Office                             W-S – Winston-Salem

*Client Potential Eligibility Determination process is pulled out from the Veterans Services Office Process Map for more in-depth mapping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 62
                                            Appendix E

PROFILE OF SOVI STEERING COMMITTEE

VOTING MEMBERS

1. John Ficker – Chair of the SOVI Steering Committee, Senior administrator for Regency Retirement
   Village
2. Tom Davis – Vice-Chair of the SOVI Steering Committee, disabled Vietnam veteran, retired Air
   Force Lieutenant Colonel
3. Howard Blackwelder – Korean War veteran, Former Commander of the Blind Veterans Association
4. Griffin Burton, Mid Atlantic Printers Limited, currently assisting his mother with filing a claim for
   VA Pension.
5. Kater Cornwell – disabled Vietnam veteran, paraplegic and active member of The Paralyzed Veterans
   of America (PVA)
6. Danny Hernandez – retired Special Forces Command Sergeant Major, and currently a detective with
   the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
7. Madeleine Jacobs – President, Star Wives of America, an organization for surviving spouses of
   veterans who died on active duty or from a service connected disability
8. Dr. Wynn Mabry – Director, Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, retired Air Force Major
   General
9. Fran McGinnis – disabled Vietnam veteran, US Army

EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS

1.   Robert Becker – Congressional Liaison, U.S. Representative Sue Myrick
2.   Tony McEwen – Congressional Liaison, U.S. Representative Mel Watt
3.   Eric Wilson – Congressional Liaison, U.S. Representative Robin Hayes
4.   Lori Livingston – Congressional Liaison, Senator Richard Burr
5.   Rick Schou – American Red Cross




                                                                                                      63

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:10
posted:7/2/2011
language:English
pages:64