With Veterans Day approaching, I want to focus this week on an agency that works closely with veterans in our state. The Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs serves over 150,000 military veterans each year in our state.
The Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs assists veterans and their families in acquiring the state and federal benefits they are entitled to through their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Led by John Hilgert, who also serves as the Director of the Division of Veterans' Homes within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs consists of three divisions.
The central office is responsible for the administration of the agency as well as overseeing the array of unique benefits provided to veterans in Nebraska, including a college tuition waiver program for veterans attending Nebraska colleges and universities and the Nebraska Veterans Aid Fund, available to provide emergency-aid to veterans and their families. The central office also coordinates applications from individuals seeking to live at one of Nebraska's four Veterans Homes.
Other responsibilities include retrieving and archiving all discharges for Nebraska military personnel who complete their service. They also maintain a statewide registry of Nebraska veteran grave sites.
The Veterans' Affairs staff works one-on-one with military veterans, spouses and their families in order to establish eligibility for veterans' benefits. They provide guidance for those with claims filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) and assist individuals in completing and submitting documents as part of the claims process. The state service office is located at the new VA Regional Office in Lincoln. This collaboration helps state and federal veterans officials work together on behalf of Nebraska veterans.
The newest division of the department was created in 2006 when legislation creating the State Veterans Cemetery System was approved. The cemetery division was responsible for overseeing the construction of Nebraska's first state veterans' cemetery, located in Alliance on the former Alliance Army Airbase used to train paratroopers and glider pilots during World War II. It was dedicated this summer and is the result of a cooperative effort with the local community and the federal VA. The Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Alliance will provide a final resting place for more than 8,000 veterans.
Nebraskans have a deep appreciation for the service that our veterans have given to our country. Providing quality services for them here at home is a way to honor their service and sacrifices. I appreciate the time and energy the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs devotes to working with veterans organizations, our veterans and their families.
As we observe Veterans Day, I hope that all of us will take time to remember the service of our veterans and to thank our veterans for all that they have done for our nation.