PA 16-68—sHB 5416
Veterans' Affairs Committee
Labor and Public Employees Committee
AN ACT CONCERNING THE LABOR DEPARTMENT AND CERTAIN PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS, IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE TO VETERANS BY THE ADVOCACY AND ASSISTANCE UNIT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS AND STRENGTHENING COORDINATION BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS AND MUNICIPALITIES
SUMMARY: This act requires the labor commissioner to establish a special operations resource network as a clearinghouse for veterans and armed forces members who, as part of their military training, acquired knowledge, experience, or skills most compatible with certain professional opportunities.
The act expands the responsibilities of the Department of Veterans' Affairs advocacy and assistance unit, generally to conform to current practice. It charges the veterans' affairs commissioner with requiring nursing home and assisted living facility administrators to notify the unit every six months about new residents who are veterans and consent to the release of this information, and it requires the unit to use the information to develop an annual visiting schedule for veteran service officers (VSOs).
The act also requires the veterans' affairs commissioner, annually, to electronically notify chief executive officers of municipalities that do not have a local veterans' advisory committee about their responsibility to designate a municipal employee to serve as a service contact person for veterans. It requires, rather than allows, the designee to complete training within a specified time period.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016
The act requires the labor commissioner, in consultation with the adjutant general and veterans' affairs commissioner, to develop a database that categorizes veterans and armed forces members, including National Guard members, based on their military training and cross-reference the database information against certain professional opportunities to match participants with any such opportunity.
Armed forces members and veterans discharged or released from active service in the armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable may apply to be included in the database by submitting evidence of their military training that describes the particular knowledge, experience, or skill set acquired. Veterans must also submit their military discharge document or a certified copy of it. The labor commissioner must evaluate applications and categorize applicants in the database. He also must update the database weekly and publish it on the Labor Department's website.
Anyone interested in hiring someone from the database must contact the Labor Department through a dedicated telephone number, and the department must facilitate contact between the parties.
ADVOCACY AND ASSISTANCE UNIT DUTIES
Development of Outreach Plan
The act requires the advocacy and assistance unit to develop a written outreach plan that identifies (1) strategies for reaching out to veterans and their spouses, relatives, and eligible dependents to help them claim veterans' services or benefits and (2) to the extent possible, specific events and other opportunities to provide such help in cases where the unit sponsors or participates in providing the assistance.
The unit head and each VSO must electronically track information on outreach conducted or attended by the unit, including the title or type of outreach and the number of veterans or their spouses, relatives, or eligible dependents who received substantive services or referrals.
The unit must update the plan as necessary to improve the efficacy of its outreach efforts.
Tracking Veterans in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Prior law required the veterans' affairs commissioner to conduct interviews in nursing homes and hospitals to determine the number of veterans admitted and the benefits these veterans were receiving and were entitled to receive. Under the act, the commissioner must, instead, require nursing home and assisted living facility administrators to notify the unit every six months, beginning by April 1, 2017, of any new resident (i. e. , one not previously reported to the unit) who is a veteran or veteran's spouse, relative, or eligible dependent, provided the resident consents to the release of this information.
The act requires the unit to use the information to develop an annual visiting schedule for each VSO. The unit must compile any information collected from the visits and provide quarterly reports to the department's board of trustees. The reports must include (1) concerns raised by veterans or their spouses, relatives, or eligible dependents (summarized by type, frequency, and resolution); (2) petitions filed by such individuals and received by the commissioner for the four preceding months; and (3) copies of any such petitions.
Municipal Veterans' Service Contact Person
By law, municipalities may, jointly or separately, establish a local veterans' advisory committee to perform specified duties on behalf of veterans. Any municipality that has not established its own independent committee and does not otherwise provide funding for a VSO must designate a municipal employee to serve as a veterans' service contact person. The act requires the veterans' affairs commissioner, annually, to electronically notify the chief executive officer of any such municipality of his or her duty to make the designation. The chief executive officer, within 30 days after receiving the notification, must submit the name and email address of the designated employee to the advocacy and assistance unit.
The act also requires, rather than allows, the designee to complete an advocacy and assistance unit training program. It requires the unit to conduct training at least twice per year instead of annually, and it specifies that the training must include (1) a summary of state and federal services and benefits, (2) the duties the service contact persons must perform, and (3) any assistance with the duties unit staff may provide to the contact person. Any contact person designated (1) before July 1, 2016 must complete the training before January 1, 2017 and (2) on or after July 1, 2016 must complete the training within one year of designation. Once the training is completed, the contact person may electronically receive any new or updated training information from the unit and cannot be required to complete any other such training course.
OLR Tracking: VR; JKL; MS: tjo