As the devastation in Haiti weighs heavily on all of our hearts, I commend you for reaching-out to offer support, as Nebraskans always do. I am pleased my office has been able to connect many of you with the appropriate federal agencies responsible for relief coordination. We are also assisting several Nebraska families in the midst of adopting Haitian children, hoping to help bring these children -- now in desperate need -- together with their new families.
The casework we do to bridge gaps and resolve misunderstandings between federal agencies and the people we serve is often some of the most gratifying work we do. When temperatures dipped well below zero in Nebraska, a single mother of a two-year-old reached out for help. Her heat was about to be turned off and her assistance check had been misdirected. We connected her with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn notified the utility company that a mistake had occurred, and both mother and son stayed warm that night.
It is a special honor for me to be able to assist our brave veterans. One young veteran contacted me distraught that he was unable to obtain the paperwork necessary to receive his benefits five months after returning home. My staff did some digging and learned that his last duty station didn't even have his records. But, by the end of the day, this young airman had a scanned copy of his paperwork to the credit of Air Force officials who helped us to connect the dots.
In these difficult economic times, we are also helping Nebraskans who've lost their jobs to access unemployment assistance. Whether it's pressing an agency to get paperwork processed or helping Nebraskans understand the forms they need and the filing process, we're here to help.
With tax season fast approaching, I want you to know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have volunteer tax experts available at locations across the state to provide qualified individuals free assistance with tax returns. For a listing of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, you may call 1-800-829-1040.
These are just a few examples of how we assist Nebraskans. My staff and I are honored to do so. If you need help resolving a problem with the federal government, please don't hesitate to call any of my offices across the state. Contact information is available online at www.johanns.senate.gov or in the phone book.