Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs earns national recognition

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More than hundred fifty years ago, former President Abraham Lincoln articulated what would ultimately become America’s promise and  obligation to its veterans, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”

Today, with more than 420,000 veterans living in Alabama, keeping Lincoln’s commitment to veterans is more challenging than ever. Caring for their particular needs, and their dependents’ needs, requires more innovation and collaboration between federal and state governments, which is precisely why the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) created, a website that improves veterans’ access to VA benefits and services, last August.

On Thursday, Governor Robert Bentley announced the ADVA won a national innovation award for the site.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) selected ADVA for an award aptly named after President Lincoln — the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award — at the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) winter conference in Washington, D.C. last month. AlaVetNet launched their website in August 2016 as a comprehensive website that will serve as a hub for resources, providing a mechanism for veterans to find the services they need in a much faster and more user-friendly manner.

“AlaVetNet has devoted a lot of time and energy into developing and maintaining the website to provide our veterans with a seamless, systematic approach to locating beneficial resources to assist them in their daily lives,” Bentley said. “Over 420,000 men and women that served in the U.S. military reside in our great state. We appreciate their service and applaud AlaVetNet on winning the Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award and for providing this valuable tool to our veterans.”

Created in 2012, the Pillars of Excellence Awards, recognizes state-implemented best practices and encourage other states to replicate them.

“Everything that we have accomplished is due to the hard work of our employees and leadership in 18 separate state agencies plus stake holders. Together, we can best serve those who served,” Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Clyde Marsh said.

“Some of the things that helped Alabama earn this state best practices award was our reduction of veterans’ unemployment to below 4 percent, providing tax incentives for companies hiring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as well as establishing veterans’ treatment courts. With assistance from the Governor’s Office and website committee, an AlaVetNet website was created to connect veterans with resources and services at a one stop-shop location that is user friendly. This program is unique across the nation and was highlighted for other states to follow.”