January 14, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER NOMINEE
By: Joseph Holstead, Associate Analyst
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER (CGS § 27-102L)
● Adopts and enforces regulations and procedures for the department's operation, programs, and services, including the Veterans' Home.
● Operates a Veterans' Advocacy and Assistance Unit.
● Prepares studies and collects information concerning facilities and services available to armed forces members, veterans, and their spouses or eligible dependents.
● Conducts interviews in state nursing homes or hospitals to determine the number of veterans admitted, which benefits they currently receive, and those to which they are entitled.
● Cooperates with state service agencies and organizations in disseminating and assisting state residents who are or have been members of the armed forces and their spouses or eligible dependents regarding educational, health, employment, financial, and other rights and benefits.
● Assists veterans, their spouses, and eligible dependents and family members to prepare and prove claims, privileges, and benefits under federal, state, and local laws.
● Cooperates with all national, state, and local governmental and private agencies providing services or benefits to veterans, their spouses, or dependents.
● Reviews veterans' appeals of denials of admission to various department programs and benefits.
QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEE
1. During your tenure as commissioner, what changes have you seen in the number and type of veterans seeking services and the type of services they are seeking? How do you suggest the legislature respond?
2. Could the state better serve military members returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq?
3. What is the status of homelessness among veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and for veterans in general in the state?
4. What are your legislative proposals for the current session and what are your priorities?
5. What deficiencies, if any, hamper the performance of your department?
6. In December 2010, then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called on the Department of Defense to grant Freedom of Information Act requests from two veterans organizations seeking information on alleged misuse of personality disorder discharges. What is the department's stance on this issue?
7. How is the Sgt. John L. Levitow Veterans Health Center holding up since its dedication almost three years ago on May 2008?
8. How often does department staff conduct interviews in state nursing homes or hospitals to determine the number of veterans admitted, the benefits they receive, and to which they are entitled, as required by law?
9. Have economic woes hampered the department's abilities and, if so, how have you worked around these?
10. What is the department's interaction, if any, with the Connecticut Department of Higher Education concerning educational benefits?