Study shows Indiana could improve funding for Hoosier veterans

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 8, 2015) - The Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for helping veterans returning home. A 2014 done by Public Consulting Group for the Indiana DVA provided a series of recommendations the department could implement in order to do a better job.

The study showed Indiana could improve significantly when it comes to helping Hoosier veterans. Almost a year later, the war in Afghanistan is over and thousands of veterans are returning home. But there are questions still, if Indiana is capable of helping them all.

“For a number of years, the state of Indiana has appeared toward the end of the list of the total amount of benefits brought in to the veterans in their state,” said John Hickey, a Service Officer with the American Legion of Indiana.

Hickey says his organization has taken on handling hundreds of Hoosier veterans. Veterans he says who aren’t getting enough attention from the State’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“There’s probably always more that we should be doing. If we had an unlimited budget we could probably be doing a lot more,” he said.

A 2014 study showed Indiana ranks among the worst states in funding for veterans. Oregon, Alabama, and Maine all have fewer veterans than Indiana, but each spends far more per veteran than Indiana, where the study found the state spends just $3.67 per vet.

“There is much more that we can do and I think that the Indiana DVA can always do a better job at being an advocate for our veterans in our state,” said State Senator Jim Banks (R - Columbia City).

Banks, an Afghan war veteran, was sworn into office while serving in the Middle East. He’s looking forward to the upcoming General Assembly session, where he said care for returning service members will be a top priority.

“I think that there’s more that we can do and legislation that I’m looking at for next session would be related to doing more to provide access to education for Hoosier veterans so that’s an area where I think we can do more,” he said.

The Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs has hired additional employees this year and is looking at restructuring their department to address some of the study’s recommendations.