Governor McAuliffe announced today that the Virginia Department of Veterans Services received the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The award recognizes the innovative partnership between the Commonwealth and federal and local entities that enabled Virginia to be named as the first state to functionally end veteran homelessness in 2015. 

“I am proud to announce the Virginia Department of Veterans Services has been honored for their outstanding work making the Commonwealth the first state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The public servants at VDVS worked with their federal, state and local colleagues to demonstrate that smart, innovative government can make a different in people’s lives. The Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award demonstrates the values that guide our workforce every day as we work to make Virginia the best place on earth for veterans, and all families, to call home.”  

The VA and the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs worked together to establish this award to recognize state partners for outstanding programs that support veterans in their states. 

“Every U.S. state, district, commonwealth and territory has a sister agency to the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs and their governors are equally dedicated to supporting and assisting Veterans. These agencies, while independent from VA, are key partners in our mission to fulfill the promise of Abraham Lincoln: “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan. Virginia is leading the way in building collaborative partnerships along with implementing proven solutions,” said James Gough, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Awards were given for programs in the following categories: Improving Veterans Experience with VA, Improving Access to VA Health Care and Services, Improving Claims and Appeals Processing and Innovative State Programs. 

The award for Innovative State Programs was given to the Virginia Department of Veterans Services for its and its partner state agencies’ leadership and oversight in the development and implementation of a system to ensure that veteran homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in Virginia. Through coordination with federal, state, and community partners, as well as leveraging private partners, Virginia has been a national leader in streamlining access to housing and necessary supportive services to both prevent and end veteran homelessness. 

From October 2014 to January 2016, Virginia has placed 2,827 veterans experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. “It is on honor to be recognized for Virginia’s innovative leadership in ending veteran homelessness and we are committed to sustaining this success” said John L. Newby II, Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. 

Further details regarding additional Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award Recipients may be found here

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services operates 26 benefit offices that assist veterans and their family members in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; two long-term care facilities offering nursing, assisted living, and domiciliary care for veterans, and three veterans cemeteries that provide an honored final resting place for veterans and their families. VDVS provides veterans and family members with direct linkages to needed services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education, and other programs. The Department also operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s monument to honor the memory of Virginia’s men and women who demonstrated a willingness to serve and fight to defend our way of life from World War II to the present.

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