AUSTIN — After 64 years of faithful service, the Veterans Land Board - or VLB - has a new look to spread the word that veterans benefits in Texas aren't just limited to land anymore.
"The VLB offers Texas veterans more than just a land loan nowadays," said VLB Chairman Jerry Patterson. "From low-cost land and home loans to long-term, high-quality nursing care and free burial in any of three Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, the VLB has grown and we want to get the word out."
A new logo and slogan are the most visible signs of this change, and both will be featured prominently on a new website - www.texasveterans.org - and in a new ad campaign to run on Texas TV and radio stations this fall. And for the first time the VLB has embraced social media. Veterans may now share VLB news via their own social networks with easy links from the VLB's home page. Or veterans can keep up with VLB news via Facebook or Twitter.
The new brand helps modernize and simplify the VLB's presentation to the public, Patterson said. Like IBM, NBC and other well-known corporations, using the initials of the Veterans Land Board like a corporate brand will make the agency more identifiable.
The Texas tradition of taking care of veterans dates back to the Republic, when those who signed on to fight the Mexicans for independence were rewarded with generous tracts of land. The VLB was created in 1946 after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing $25 million in bonds to help World War II veterans buy land.
Since then, the land and home loan program has funded nearly $1 billion in loans and become a popular option for penny-pinching veterans looking to buy the American Dream.
The VLB has also built seven - soon to be eight - Texas State Veterans Homes, where veterans and their spouses enjoy peace of mind in their golden years. The homes, in Amarillo, Big Spring, Bonham, El Paso, Floresville, McAllen, Temple and soon Tyler, filled a need by offering comprehensive rehabilitation programs, special diets, recreational activities, social services, libraries, and a certified, secured Alzheimer's unit in each home.
In addition, the VLB has built three Texas State Veterans Cemeteries - in Abilene, Killeen and Mission - and is hard at work on another in Corpus Christi. Texas veterans are entitled to free burial with full military honors at each of these magnificent facilities.
Patterson said it's his mission to let Texas veterans know what they're entitled to. "Veterans benefits are not given, they are earned," Patterson said. "But according to the data, we've got our work cut out for us."
A little more than a year ago, the VLB surveyed Texas veterans and learned some sobering statistics. The VLB has been serving our veterans since 1946, but only 8.7 percent of those asked could provide the name of the board without prompting, even though they are veterans eligible for VLB benefits.
Patterson has taken on this mission with his characteristic drive. On October 1, the VLB launched a new website www.texasveterans.com. In November, a VLB commercial will hit the airwaves statewide to carry the new slogan, "VLB. Serving Texas Veterans. For Life."
With a new appearance, the VLB is ready to continue its mission of providing all Texas veterans with the best benefits in the nation.