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Connecting Idaho veterans with needed services

by U.S. SEN. MIKE CRAPO / Contributing Writer
| August 10, 2023 1:00 AM

Programs to support veterans do not achieve the progress they aim to if veterans do not know about or have trouble accessing them. Many community-based organizations in Idaho provide crucial long-term, holistic support for veterans, linking veterans to needed services. I recently co-led the reintroduction of S. 2431, the Helping Unleash Benefits and Services (HUBS) for Veterans Act, which would streamline access to essential resources for veterans and their families by backing these important hubs in our communities.

In recent years, I have been proud to lead a coalition in Idaho focused on implementing improvements to support veterans’ return to civilian life. The coalition’s work has resulted in the enactment of legislation to better connect service members leaving the armed forces with community-based organizations to help ensure they can easily access needed services and programs and legislation to better connect service members with industry partners in real-world job experience as their service ends.

This effort is ongoing, and a key piece of the work is effectively supporting the community-based organizations that have stepped up to provide crucial assistance to service members. Fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch joined in reintroducing the HUBS for Veterans Act that would authorize a five-year pilot program to provide matching grant funds to non-profit organizations that offer access to multiple, wraparound services from one source, or “network hubs.” The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in consultation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to prioritize network hubs that provide job recruitment training, educational support services, financial services, entrepreneurship training, behavioral health services and assistance in accessing benefits administered by the VA.

The bill would also ensure that service members receive information through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) about network hubs located in the community in which they will reside once they become a civilian. TAP is an interagency collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, DOL and VA that provides information to service members and their families to help them transition from military service to civilian life. We first introduced the HUBS for Veterans Act in 2018 and reintroduced the legislation in 2019, 2021 and now again in 2023.

Idahoans can be proud that more than 116,000 veterans, 4,219 active-duty service members and 8,345 National Guard and Reserve members choose to make Idaho their home. Generations of veterans have risked their lives upholding our “land of liberty” and born witness to the atrocities leveled against people around the world who struggle under leadership that does not value individual freedom. Ensuring veterans have access to a variety of wraparound services through a central location of information will greatly reduce the overwhelming burden of navigating multiple streams of information. This legislation can ensure veterans who choose to make Idaho home can more easily access jobs, programs and services and their skills are effectively used. I look forward to its enactment.

Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.