ANNVILLE, Pa., Dec. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Pennsylvania having the third largest National Guard and the fourth largest veteran population in the country, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) today highlighted a variety of accomplishments that benefitted service members, veterans and their families in 2016.
"Whether it's providing quality service to the commonwealth's nearly 900,000 veterans and their families, or overseeing and supporting the nearly 20,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard, DMVA has provided the highest level of programs and services that our Guard members and veterans expect and deserve," said Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general. "Despite limited staff and budgetary constraints, DMVA has built a stronger Pennsylvania for our veterans to prosper and the Pennsylvania National Guard to maintain its capabilities. Ultimately, we are humbled to work with and serve heroes, including our veterans and those in service in the Pennsylvania National Guard."
Supporting and Honoring Pennsylvania's Veterans
DMVA coordinated the efforts of multiple stakeholders to place more than 2,500 homeless veterans in permanent housing in 2016. Additionally, during 2016 Philadelphia and Reading/Berks County formally announced that they have the systems in place to successfully meet the needs of homeless veterans in their areas.
The Veterans' Trust Fund granted $550,000 to 13 Pennsylvania County Departments of Veterans Affairs Offices and 18 charitable organizations and veterans' service organizations to assist and support Pennsylvania's veterans and their families.
The Veteran Service Officer Grant Program awarded $2.3 million to our Veteran Service Organization partners to improve our ability to provide education, awareness and assistance.
DMVA also provided more than $5 million in direct payments to our veterans through the various State Veterans Benefits Programs.
DMVA honored and thanked its Vietnam veterans at 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration events. DMVA also partnered with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund "Wall of Faces" program to locate more than 250 photos of Pennsylvania service members who sacrificed their life in the Vietnam War.
In 2016, DMVA expanded its offering for individuals and businesses to make online donations benefitting veterans which included the Pennsylvania Veterans' Memorial Trust Fund and the six Veterans Homes Resident Welfare Funds. DMVA received 104 online donations to the nine funds totaling more than $5,000.
Connecting with Pennsylvania's Veterans
More than 6,000 individuals registered online with DMVA's Veterans Registry for assistance with obtaining veterans benefits and services and regular updates from DMVA. The Veterans Registry is part of DMVA's long-term strategy to achieve a higher level of communication with Pennsylvania veterans as well as our partners who support them.
DMVA's two Mobile Veterans Outreach Vans along with teams of accredited veteran service officers traveled to 157 events across the state and interacted with nearly 3,000 veterans.
Advocating for Pennsylvania's Veterans
Gov. Tom Wolf, along with the Pennsylvania General Assembly, supported the military and veterans community through the passage and enactment of seven bills into law. These included pay increases for state active duty, exemption of all military pay from local earned income tax, the addition of the Korean War Veterans Association to the State Veterans Commission, enhancement of the Veterans' Trust Fund and the Veterans' Emergency Assistance program, and improvements to Soldiers' Grove and the Medal of Honor Grove on the Capitol grounds. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, was extended the death benefit under the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit program.
Serving our Community, Commonwealth and Country
As part of its federal mission, more than 1,600 Pennsylvania National Guard personnel deployed throughout the world in support of multiple operations to include Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kosovo and missions in support of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Air Force Special Operations Command and NATO.
During January's Winter Storm Jonas, 326 Guard members conducted 19 missions in 11 counties and delivered over 4,000 meals to stranded motorists in shelters or in their vehicles. Then in July, nearly 2,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members supported the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia.
More than 200 Pennsylvania National Guard members participated in overseas exercises and planning meetings in Germany, France, Republic of Korea, Estonia and Lithuania. These events support U.S. allies and align with the strategic objectives and partnerships of the Department of Defense. Additionally, more than 100 Pennsylvania National Guard members participated in 34 events with their partner, Lithuania, as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program.
Fort Indiantown Gap, headquarters to the DMVA and Pennsylvania National Guard, hosted its first division-level warfighter exercise for approximately 4,500 service members from the Army and Air National Guards, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Reserves, and British army. This computer-simulated exercise increased units' readiness and ability to perform their missions.
For federal fiscal year 2016, Fort Indiantown Gap was once again the busiest National Guard training center in the nation with more than 700,000 man-days and more than 125,000 people trained.
MEDIA CONTACT: Joan Z. Nissley, 717-861-8720
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs