Rhode Island Veterans Affairs Office to Assume Higher Profile

Rhode Island’s first director of veterans affairs plans to extend the agency’s role by bolstering its capacity to support veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kasim Yarn, who was appointed by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) on Wednesday, will work on “increasing the role the office plays with assisting veterans’ transitions from service to the community, including in the areas of education, workforce training, small business ownership, and housing and home ownership,” according to a spokeswoman for the governor.

Yarn, who is expected to retire from the Navy shortly, plans to improve access to education and training opportunities that lead to meaningful work for veterans and help them to successfully navigate services and benefits, according to a press release.

The veterans office previously has focused on running the state veterans home and veterans cemetery, reported the Providence Journal. It is housed within the state’s executive office of Health and Human Services.

Yarn’s appointment makes him the state’s first veterans affairs director. The Rhode Island General Assembly created the cabinet-level director position in 2009, but it had been left vacant and unfunded until recently.

The General Assembly in 2009 passed a bill turning the Division of Veterans Affairs into a standalone state department with a cabinet-level director appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The director’s position was never funded, however, and in 2011, before the division ever turned into a separate department, lawmakers repealed the 2009 law and kept the division within Health and Human Services, according to the Journal.

Raimondo said Yarn would report directly to her, rather than the Health and Human Services director.


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