- Homelessness - Barbara contends that the way to reduce the number of homeless veterans moving into the future is to keep at risk veterans from becoming home in the first place. While the 'how' of doing this was not really discussed in depth, I know that the VOA are experts in helping the homeless transition successfully. I will keep an eye on this over the course of the coming year.
- Military to Civilian Transition - In a difficult economy, it it even harder for veterans to get jobs. Many do not know how to translate their military skills (if they translate at all) to the civilian market. Many don't know how to proceed at at to ensure they have a secure future. Barbara views it as incumbent upon the VOA to ensure that this translation of skill and transition assistance occurs for every veteran.
- Inadequate Counseling Services - Barbara pointed out how care providers are being vilified by veterans in search of counseling. She stated veterans need to be aware that providers are burning out too, that there are not enough counselors available to service the needs of veterans in a timely manner.
- Generational Differences Between the Needs of Vietnam Vets and Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans - Aside from the literal generational differences between Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans, veterans of the current conflicts have a very different set of health issues and injuries that they need care for. The system has had 10 years to adapt to the evolving needs of veterans. Barbara asserts that there is still a lot of work to do.
Lastly Barbara said one thing that really stuck with me: "It is not what we say, it is what we do."
*A Note to Barbara Banaszynski*
I was honored to be invited by your organization to be part of this discussion. I look forward to learning about your initiatives moving forward. As the year progresses and we get closer and closer to next year's panel, I would love to catch up with you periodically and learn about your successes and your failures and what the VOA has learned from both. Your organization recognized that more needed to be done to provide for veterans and are acting now to make a difference. David Burch has my email but if you ever want to contact me directly, you can send me an email.