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Veterans’ View: Make veterans in Carroll County count; be a part of Census 2020

Once every 10 years, America comes together to participate in the census to count all people living in each state. The census provides the basis for distribution of federal funding to support state, county and vital community programs. Census Day 2020 is April 1, 2020. The census is very important to Carroll County and specifically the veterans community.

Did you know veterans are historically an undercounted group? Carroll County’s 2010 census resulted in an 83% response rate and indicated there were 14,002 veterans residing in Carroll County. It’s important to accurately count local veterans so the county understands the current and future challenges of the men and woman who served our country and is therefore able to continually develop necessary programs and services.

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To that end, Carroll County is forming a Census 2020 workgroup to focus on veterans outreach. The workgroup currently seeks community members who have influence and experience working with veterans and are available to commit time, resources and energy to ensuring Carroll County achieves an accurate count.

What you need to know

The census is easy.

Every household has the option of responding to the Census online, by mail or by phone. The 2020 census will be the first time the census will be available online in US history. Here is a timeline of what to expect:

· March 12-20, 2020: Households will receive an invitation in the mail to respond online to the 2020 census.

· March 16-24, 2020: Households will receive a reminder letter.

If no response:

· March 26-April 3, 2020: Households will receive a reminder postcard.

· April 8-16, 2020: Households will receive a reminder letter and a paper questionnaire.

· April 20-27, 2020: Households will receive a final reminder postcard before a census worker follows up in person.

The census is safe, confidential

The US Census Bureau must keep all information confidential, including a resident’s citizenship, income and other sensitive personal data.

· Data is collected for statistical purposes only and personal data is never disclosed.

· All census information is private and protected by law in Title 13 of US Code with violations punishable up to five years on federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

· Respondents personal information is never shared with government agencies.

How are census data used?

The data are used to assist tribal, federal, state and local governments in planning and implementing programs and services in:

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· Education, healthcare, transportation, social services and emergency response

The data results in:

· Distribution of more than $675 billion annually in federal funds.

· Redistricting of state legislative districts.

· Forecasting of future transportation needs.

· Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.

Ensuring veterans are counted

The recently establish Carroll County Complete Count Committee (CCC) is a volunteer committee charged with increasing awareness and motivating residents to respond to the 2020 Census. The CCC serve as the county’s “census ambassador” and plays an integral part in ensuring a complete and accurate count of the community. They provide a vehicle for coordinating and nurturing cooperative efforts between state, and local governments; communities; and the US Census Bureau. Success of the census depends on community involvement at every level and success cannot be achieved without local involvement from Carroll County’s respected leaders.

The CCC workgroup will have members with experience and expertise involving veterans. The idea of the workgroup is to be more of the “boots-on-the-ground” and reach those historically hard to count groups directly. The workgroup will use local knowledge, influence, and resources to educate our communities and promote the census through locally based, targeted outreach efforts.

The Veterans-related workgroup will be chaired by Gina Valentine, the Aging & Disabilities Services supervisor at the Carroll County Bureau of Aging & Disabilities. She oversees the Veteran Services Program of Carroll County and is the staff liaison for the Carroll County Veterans Advisory Council. For more information about the Complete Count Veterans Workgroup or to volunteer for the workgroup, contact Valentine at 410-386-3800 or gvalentine@carrollcountymd.gov.

Veterans’ View runs as the Carroll County Times editorial on the first Tuesday of each month.

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