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The Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is organized into six service delivery sections – benefits, veterans education, care centers, veterans cemeteries, the Virginia War Memorial, and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program. Three citizen boards work closely with the agency to support the effective delivery of services to Virginia’s veterans – the Board of Veterans Services, the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations, and the Veterans Services Foundation.
Benefits Services assists veterans of the armed forces and their dependents in accessing federal and state veterans benefits. DVS operates 22 benefits services offices throughout the Commonwealth where veterans and their dependents receive free assistance in developing and filing claims for federal veterans benefits. This section also certifies eligibility for the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program.
The State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training (SAA) approves educational programs offered by institutions and establishments operating in Virginia so that eligible veterans and their dependents may enroll and receive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while pursuing an approved educational program. The SAA approves educational programs at colleges/universities, technical/trade schools, licensing/ certification programs, and on-the-job training/apprenticeship programs.
Virginia’s state veterans cemeteries provide burial and perpetual care services to veterans and eligible dependents. The Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia is a 129-acre facility. The Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk is a 73-acre facility. The Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin is an 80-acre facility.
The Virginia Veterans Care Center (VVCC), located adjacent to the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, provides state-of-the-art long-term health care for up to 240 veterans. Of the facility’s 240 beds, 180 are dedicated to skilled nursing care, including 60 dedicated to the care of Alzheimer’s patients. There are 60 beds serving assisted-living (domiciliary care) residents. The VVCC provides on-site physical therapy, occupational and speech therapies, and podiatry care, as well as many other ancillary health care services. The care center also offers amenities such as a wheelchair accessible nature trail and deck, library, chapel, solariums, and barbershop.
The Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center (SBVCC), located on the campus of the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Richmond, features 160 single-occupancy rooms. The care center has two 60-bed skilled nursing care units and one 40-bed Alzheimer’s/dementia care unit. All beds are certified for both Medicare and Medicaid. The facility is also certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The facility provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as therapeutic recreation, social and spiritual activities, and other amenities such as an on-site pharmacy, a fully equipped barber and beauty shop, activity and game rooms, resident lounges in each nursing unit, courtyards, and an outdoor walking trail. Veterans may be admitted as long-term residents or on a short-term basis for rehabilitation as they transition from hospital care to home.
The Virginia War Memorial is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s monument to honor the memory of Virginia’s men and women who demonstrated a willingness to serve and fight to defend our way of life from World War II to the present; and through its Education Center to serves as the Center of Excellence for the Commonwealth in education of Virginian’s experience of war from the birth of our nation to the present. In its educational mission, the Virginia War Memorial will project a variety of internal and outreach programs, artifacts, research materials, Virginians at War documentaries, exhibitions, seminars, and ceremonies will be used to instill a living memorial to all citizens and citizen-warriors of the nation’s commitment to freedom.
The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program is designed to provide timely supplemental behavioral health, rehabilitation services, and support to Virginia’s veterans, members of the Virginia National Guard, Virginia residents in the Armed Forces Reserves, and their family members, who are coping with the effects of combat/operational stress and other combat-related injuries resulting from their service and sacrifice in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Program focuses on traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders and operates in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services and the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services. The Program will be administered through three regional directors working closely with existing local Community Services Boards.
The Department of Veterans Services works closely with three citizen boards to deliver effective services to Virginia’s veterans.
The Board is responsible for formulating policies, developing procedures, reviewing agency budget submissions, and making recommendations for the efficient and effective delivery of veterans’ services. It also studies topics affecting the welfare of Virginia’s veterans.
The Council consists of representatives of the majority of veterans service organizations in the Commonwealth. It advises DVS on matters of concern to veterans and their families. The Council is active in identifying veterans’ needs and advocating in support of veterans issues that may be remedied through appropriate legislation or by other means.
The Foundation Board of Trustees is responsible for oversight and administration of the Veterans Services Fund, distribution of funds to veterans services and programs, and seeking additional sources of revenue and other resources to support the viability of the Fund. Government resources alone cannot fully meet the needs of Virginia’s veterans, and the Commonwealth anticipates that Virginia citizens will want to help our veterans.
The Foundation is available to receive contributions to support veterans services. It is an independent state agency that supports the Department of Veterans Services. The Foundation is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations under Internal Revenue Service Section 170 (c) and Code of Virginia Section 2.2-2719. Contributions are placed in the Veterans Services Fund and cannot revert to the Commonwealth’s General Fund.
Paul Galanti grew up in an Army family in many states, Japan, France, Turkey and Germany. He graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1957 and the U. S. Naval Academy in 1962. He immediately entered Navy jet flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Following completion of advanced training in November 1963, he was a flight instructor in Pensacola. In November 1964, he joined Navy Light Jet Attack Squadron 216 (VA-216) based aboard the carrier, USS Hancock, which departed for Southeast Asia in November 1965.
Galanti flew 97 combat missions in his A-4 Skyhawk before being shot down and captured on June 17, 1966. He remained a prisoner of war of the North Vietnamese for nearly seven years and was released on February 12, 1973.
Following rehabilitation at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, the Navy sent him to the Navy Recruiting District in Richmond, Virginia as its Executive Officer. He received the Master of Commerce degree (MBA) from the University of Richmond in May 1976 after two years of night school. He then became Commanding Officer of the Richmond Recruiting District.
In July 1979 he moved to Annapolis in the Office of the Commandant at the Naval Academy - responsible for the military and leadership training of 750 academy midshipmen. Additionally, he was faculty advisor to the Brigade of Midshipmen Drum & Bugle Corps, the Lucky Bag (Academy yearbook) and the Midshipmen Honor Committee.
After being medically retired from the Navy, he became, in 1983, the first non-pharmacist Executive Director of the Virginia Pharmaceutical Association in its 100 year history. Joining the Medical Society of Virginia staff in September 1991, Galanti became the Executive Vice President of the Society on January 1, 1993. In both organizations, he used his computer expertise to vault them into the forefront nationally for association automation. In 2000, he was the Virginia Campaign Director for Senator John McCain's Presidential bid. He is currently active in the American Ex-Prisoners of War service organization and remains active in Virginia politics. He worked with Senator McCain again in his bid in 2008.
He was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame in November 2005. A replica of his A-4C from VA-216 is on display at the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond.
He was recently appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell as the Commissioner of Veterans Services for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Galanti's personal decorations include the Silver Star, combat awards of two Legions of Merit and the Bronze Star, nine combat Air Medals and two Purple Hearts.
Additional Information: Galanti appeared on the covers of Life (October 20, 1967) and Newsweek (February 26, 1973) and in the August 19, 1999 issue of Time. Selling Power highlighted his success story in a six page motivation section, Never Give Up, Never Give In, in its May/June 1996 issue. That national sales journal chose him as one of the twelve outstanding motivators in the United States in September 1996.
The new 18,000 sq. ft. education center at the Virginia War Memorial will be named for Paul and Phyllis Galanti.
He has appeared in several documentary films including the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-winning "Vietnam POWs, Stories of Survival" and Public Television's "Return With Honor." He is Past President of the Virginia Aviation Foundation, Past President of the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation, Past President of Nam-POWs, the national Vietnam POW Fraternity and an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. Additionally, he serves on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs' Advisory Committee on Former POWs. He was President of his class at Annapolis.
He is married to the former Phyllis Eason. They have two grown sons.