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Lawmakers Launch State-wide Veteran Survey

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West Virginia lawmakers launched a survey this week to assess the needs of veterans and military members in the state.

"We know that we have at least 8,000 veterans and we want to get as many of them as we can," said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, co-chair of the Veterans Interim Committee, "so that we can figure out the best ways to help them."

The survey will gather information about their health, work, education, family, retirement, and benefits.

Fleischauer said the lawmakers want to know what's working for veterans, and what isn't.

"Is their family life fine, are their kids doing fine?" Fleischauer said, "because it can be disruptive for everybody when somebody is called into the service and called up and come back and called up and come back, four times maybe."

Veterans can take the survey online or over the phone. It is the only one of its kind, Fleischauer said.

"We have more veterans per capita than any other state and so that means we feel we have to make a bigger effort from the legislative side and make sure that what we're doing in our state is helping," she said.

The state implemented measures to help veterans after a similar study in 2008. It was on a smaller scale, but it still provided valuable information for lawmakers.

"We did a lot," Fleischauer said. "We hired four new social workers to reach out to people in the rural areas we put money in for vans to pick people up and take them to their medical appointments, we passed legislation to mandate veteran-friendly campuses, we've done things to encourage veteran-friendly communities."

She and other lawmakers hope this survey helps them develop more effective programs in the state, but they need veterans and military members to take part.

They can call 1-855-299-6605 toll-free to schedule an interview, or go to http://www.wvmilitarysurvey.com/.

Participants can remain anonymous, but those who register can win a VISA cash gift card. One $500 gift card, five $100 gift cards, and thirty $50 gift cards will be given away in all.