‘Built with veterans in mind’: NDVA announces three new initiatives for local vets
LINCOLN, Neb. — Thursday, the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) joined Governor Pete Ricketts to announce the launch of its new website, plans for an expansion at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home, and enhancements to the ‘Welcome Home’ initiative for discharging service members.
“Today is very exciting for our agency as we take some of the tools and resources we use to serve Nebraska’s veterans to the next level,” said NDVA Director John Hilgert. “I am proud of my entire team for the energy they put towards improving what we have, building new tools, and always having the veteran in mind as we move forward.”
New NDVA Website
In 2019, the Legislature passed LB138, tasking NDVA with creating a website with veteran-specific job search tools. This led to the development of the Nebraska Veteran’s Gateway, a suite of tools for veteran job seekers. Some tools include a job converter that finds civilian equivalents to military occupation service codes and a resource expert to guide users through employment resources available to veterans.
In addition to the Nebraska Veterans’ Gateway, other website updates include:
- New Benefits Expert A.I. system
- Interactive behavioral and mental health services map
- Virtual Veteran Service Officer system is now permanent
- County Veteran Service Officer directory now includes a clickable map
- Enhanced news and events page
“The Nebraska Veterans’ Gateway was built with veterans in mind and is a great tool to help our military families transition to civilian life here in Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts. “It will aid veterans in accessing benefits and information more effectively and efficiently than ever before.”
Check out the website at veterans.nebraska.gov.
Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home Expansion
Also announced were plans for an expansion at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home (ENVH). It will create 30 new skilled nursing beds, replace 30 semi-private assisted living beds with 24 private assisted living beds, and provide space for services like an adult day health care program, something not currently offered by NDVA.
“Our team is excited for the expansion and the opportunity to serve more veterans here at our facility,” said ENVH Administrator David Williamson. “The new adult day health care program is especially exciting as it offers a bridge for veterans who don’t need 24/7 care, but do need some support to continue living independently. We think it will help serve them and their families, and are looking forward to being that bridge.”
When ENVH was designed and built in 2005, a future addition was included in the planning. The USVA recently informed NDVA they are eligible for federal grant funding for the project, which would cover 65 percent of the cost. The State of Nebraska allocated its required portion of the funding—just over 3.3 million dollars—in 2019.
“Welcome Home” Packet
Changes on how the state connects with recently discharging members of the U.S. Armed Forces was announced, as well. When service members discharge and return to Nebraska, Gov. Ricketts sends them a welcome home letter outlining some of Nebraska’s veteran benefits, encouraging them to contact their CVSO or the NDVA State Service Office, and inviting them to a Welcome Home Picnic in the fall.
NDVA’s new Welcome Home packet will accompany the governor’s letter and include information on county, state, and federal benefits; occupational licensure benefits; NDVA programs; NDVA’s Guide to Veterans Benefits, and more.
“By putting all of our benefits materials and contact information in the veteran’s hands, we’re eliminating a step for them, and making sure they see what we can do for them,” said State Service Office Manager Levi Bennett. “We want to be a veteran’s first stop in their transition to civilian life and make sure they’re receiving every benefit—whether it’s county, state, or federal—that they’ve earned.”