Governor McKee Highlights 2023 Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services Accomplishments

 Governor McKee Highlights 2023 Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services Accomplishments
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Today, Governor McKee and the Rhode Island of Veterans Services (RIVETS) released the 2023 Year-in-Review highlighting the extensive work of RIVETS and its partners to serve and honor Rhode Island’s Veterans and military families.
“Supporting the men and women who served our nation will always be a top priority in Rhode Island,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I’m extremely grateful for and encouraged by the tireless work RIVETS has made this year to ensure the Rhode Island veterans have the access to care they need and the support they deserve. Our veterans represent the very best of Rhode Island and our state owes them a great debt. This year’s work represents an important step in recognizing their bravery and sacrifice.”
“As one of the newest agencies in state government, over the last seven years we’ve grown significantly in capability and capacity, collaborating with our myriad partners to provide programming and services to Veterans and their families,” said RIVETS Director Kasim Yarn. “2023 has been an especially productive year for our team and our partnerships and we look forward to continuing the momentum into 2024.”
Military Service Pensions
2023 was the first full year of exemption of military service pensions, ensuring Rhode Island is no longer an outlier and that military families can be highly successful while living, working, and learning in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Recognizing the important and essential work of the National Guard and Reserves, in 2023 Rhode Island updated statutory language to allow for interment of National Guard and Reserve members at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery. This change brought Rhode Island in compliance with the federal Burial Equity for Guard and Reservists Act, which recognizes the significant contributions of guard members and reservists to keeping us safe at home and abroad.
Staffing has become a significant challenge throughout the health care industry, and in response RIVETS has taken steps and developed a multi-point incentive plan designed to attract, train, and retain critical direct care workers. As part of these efforts, RIVETS has established an innovative partnership with CCRI and DCYF to offer opportunities for youth in the Voluntary Extension of Care program to receive education, training, and eventual employment at the Rhode Island Veterans Home setting them on a health care career pathway.
There are estimated to be over 5,000 female Veterans living in Rhode Island, representing about 8 percent of Rhode Island’s Veteran population. By 2045, women will represent 22 percent of Rhode Island’s Veteran population, making them one of the fastest-growing Veteran cohorts. For these reasons, in 2023 RIVETS hired a Women Veteran Program Coordinator to actively increase awareness of obstacles female Veterans face, as well as expanding access to resources for this underserved population.
For the first time, dedicated funding for Veteran transportation services was included in the FY24 state budget. Many injured, ill and disabled Veterans identify access to reliable transportation, including services to get them to and from VA healthcare appointment, as critical and important to reintegration efforts.
Veteran Service Officers
Lack of access to certified Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) can significantly impact access to benefits and programs Veterans have earned and deserve. In FY24, RIVETS has dedicated $100,000 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Rhode Island for provision of VSO services to ensure Veterans and military families have proper guidance when applying for benefits.
Cold War Veterans
Since passage of legislation in 2021 giving local property tax exemptions to Cold War Veterans, several National Guard members who served during the Cold War have been denied access to these benefits by municipal tax officials. RIVETS introduced legislation to rectify this situation and in 2023 the General Assembly passed laws allowing for National Guard members to access these local tax exemption benefits.
Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant
RIVETS has been a key partner to RIDOH in securing and executing the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant ($750,000) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rhode Island is ensuring coordination of services through federal, state and community agencies to address the issues of mental health and suicide among Rhode Island Veterans and their families.
Over the course of the last year, RIVETS has been grateful for the opportunity to serve Rhode Island’s Veterans and military families, and know 2024 will be another exciting and productive year.
More than 60,000 Veterans, active duty, national guard, and reservists call Rhode Island home. Visit for information on programs and services for Veterans and military families who make Rhode Island home.

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