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Veterans View: Census will help determine funding for local veterans groups

Every 10 years, the census counts everyone residing in the United States. 2020 is a Census year. At this point, you should have received correspondence from the US Census asking you to participate by answering some questions about those who live in your household. You can complete the US Census at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020. While the census only occurs once each decade, the Census Bureau plays an ongoing and vital role in producing statistics so that we have an informed understanding of today’s Veterans.

The first question related to veterans was included in the 1890 census. Most veterans were from the Civil War, as well as from the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Veterans shaped our past, and they shape our future. Veterans are the backbone of communities across America. No matter when you served, your response to the 2020 census will play a part in shaping our future.

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Though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains veterans’ records, these statistics do not provide federal program planners, policymakers, and researchers with additional statistics about all Veterans, regardless of whether they use VA services. Responses to the 2020 census will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds is distributed annually for the next 10 years. That money is used for education and public services like parks, public transportation, health care, emergency services, and more. An accurate count is especially crucial for veterans in rural communities, those with disabilities, and those at risk of homelessness. Data from the 2020 Census will also help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plan programs and assess emerging needs for Veterans.

As of 2017, the US Census Bureau estimates that there are over 11,000 veterans who reside in Carroll County. Below is a highlight of several of the programs, offered through various agencies in Carroll County, that receive funding through US federal dollars.

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The Carroll County Government Veteran’s Transportation Shuttle Program provides service to specified Veterans Administration (VA) medical sites. There is no cost to the veteran or his/her personal care assistant to use the shuttle program. The shuttle program provides rides to the Baltimore VA Medical Center on Greene Street, the Loch Raven Center on Loch Raven Boulevard, to Fort Detrick Outpatient Clinic and the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on a regular basis.

The Veteran Services Program of Carroll County, which is housed within the Carroll County Bureau of Aging & Disabilities, provides emergency financial assistance to Carroll County veterans, including homeless veterans. The program collaborates with other community partners to focus on efforts to end veteran homelessness in Carroll County.

Qualified veterans receive priority service at BERC (Business and Employment Resource Center). Local veteran representatives conduct employer outreach, engage in advocacy efforts, organize and facilitate job clubs and conduct pre-screening for hiring. Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialists provide intensive services for those who face significant barriers to employment to obtain or maintain employment.

Carroll Community College welcomes veterans, active duty personnel, National Guard and Reserve personnel and their families. In addition to participating in GI Bill and military tuition payment options, Carroll offers academic and social support to ease the transition from military service to academics. Carroll focuses on guiding veterans in adapting their military skills to the classroom. To help meet the new set of challenges posed by postsecondary education, their offices help veterans with accessible resources and strategic support.

The data determined by the surveys of the US Census help determine the funding that is provided for these and other veterans’ services in Carroll County. All veterans count. Please take the US Census at my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

Laura Russell is Carroll County’s census coordinator.

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