Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 24 Commissioner Gade shared his thoughts and perspectives with Capitol Connections on how he plans to lead DVS to better serve Virginia’s veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. I was honored to be chosen to serve as DVS Commissioner by Governor Youngkin and Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Craig Crenshaw. I have spent much of my career as a vocal advocate for my fellow veterans and this position gives me the opportunity to continue to work for them. Virginia has one of the largest number of veterans per population of any state. More than 713,000 of our citizens—one in every twelve—have worn the uniform of one of our service branches. These men and women are a tremendous asset to the Commonwealth and this administration is committed to assuring that Virginia is the best state for them to Live, Work and Thrive. It has been gratifying to see how DVS differs from some other state agencies and programs in that it enjoys broad bipartisan support. Our legislators, administration officials, business leaders, and local government officials well understand the importance of our military installations and our substantial veteran population is to the economic success of our Commonwealth. Every week when the General Assembly is in Session, Senators and Delegates from both sides of the aisle meet together at the Military and Veterans Caucus to stay abreast of the issues that affect our veterans and their family members and create legislation to improve their lives and well-being. Members of this Caucus work closely with the members of the Board of Veterans Services and the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans-Service Organizations (JLC) on legislative initiatives and programs. Virginia must compete with other states to attract and keep our veterans and this is why Governor Youngkin has proposed legislation to lower the state tax burden on veteran retirement benefits. One of my major goals is to position DVS as “the gateway” to assure that our veterans are aware of and take advantage of the many federal benefits they earned from their service. DVS operates 34 local offices throughout the state including at or near major military installations such as the Pentagon, Marine Base Quantico, Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee and Naval Base Norfolk to provide counseling and assistance. I have been pleased to see the dedication of our DVS Veterans Services Representatives and other staff members—most of whom are veterans or military spouses themselves—who diligently work to help veterans cut through the red tape and other obstacles to receive the benefits they deserve. Making sure that our veterans find gainful civilian employment when they leave active duty is extremely important to keep them here and attracting other veterans to make Virginia their home. The Governor has tasked DVS to encourage more companies and businesses to join with the more than 2,000 employers throughout the state already committed to our Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program. Since its inception, this unique public/private partnership has resulted in the hiring of nearly 100,000 Virginia veterans representing virtually every segment of jobs and professions. Our V3 Transition program assists with this effort by working with service men and women even before they leave active duty to prepare and find civilian employment. We are blessed to have great partners such as the Virginia and U.S. Chambers of Commerce assisting us. Another major effort at DVS is to recognize the importance of our women veterans. Virginia is home to more than 109,000 women veterans—the largest number per population of any state—and their number is growing. Women veterans face unique challenges and Making Virginia The Best State For Military Veterans By DANIEL M. GADE 888-729-7428 • • opportunities in the civilian world and DVS is a leader in offering specific programs tailored to their needs including our annualVirginia Women Veterans Summit. But this is just part of the story of how DVS is committed to serving our veterans. The agency offers programs to those suffering from behavioral health issues, homelessness and financial instability and to alleviate the epidemic of veteran suicides. DVS works with veterans, their family members and our state colleges, universities and training schools to utilize their GIBill benefits to finance their post active duty education to prepare for jobs in the civilian sector. Our agency provides long-term care and rehabilitation services at our veterans care centers in Richmond and Roanoke and soon will be opening additional care centers in Fauquier County and Virginia Beach to better serve veterans in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Thousands of Virginia veterans each year choose one of our three state veterans cemeteries as their final resting place and we continue to honor and pass on the stories of our veterans and their heroism every day at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. As you may have noted, I am excited and energized by the opportunity to lead the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. I look forward to each new day and finding new and better ways to assure that Virginia is the best place for all our veterans to call home. Daniel M. Gade, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was commissioned as an Armor officer. He was wounded in action twice in Iraq while serving as a tank company commander. Despite losing a leg, he served in the Army for more than twenty-five years retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is also the author of the book, “Wounding Warriors: How Bad Policy Is Making Veterans Sicker and Poorer.”Daniel W. Gade, Ph.D., can be contacted at Daniel.Gade@ BERNIE HENDERSON President Emeritus Funeral Celebrant Phone: (804) 840-8586 V