Posted: February 4, 2017
On January 19, 2017, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL) introduced H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act. This bill would end the unfair policy of forcing many military longevity retirees to forfeit some of their retired pay in order to receive equal amounts of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The effect of this policy means military retirees are paying for their own disability with their military retired pay. This unfair policy has adversely impacted disabled veterans and their families for more than a century, but was partially repealed by Congress in 2004. Under current law disabled veterans with 20-plus years of active military service who are also in receipt of a VA disability determination of 50 percent or higher may retain both military retirement pay and their VA compensation.
In line with DAV resolution 110, adopted at our most recent National Convention assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, July 31-August 3, 2016, we support the Retired Pay Restoration Act. H.R. 303 would end the longstanding and unfair practice of the government's withholding of military longevity retired pay in exchange for VA disability compensation, regardless of disability rating. DAV believes what is unfair for a veteran rated 50 percent disabled or higher by the VA is equally unfair for a disabled veteran rated 40 percent disabled or lower. Disabled military longevity retirees should not be unfairly penalized by the government for any reason.
This legislation was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Please use the prepared email, or draft your own message, to request that your Representative support this important bill and ask that it be brought to the floor for a vote and passed as soon as possible.
Thank you for all that you do for veterans and their families. We need your grassroots action to gain Congressional enactment of this important legislation.
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Posted: January 14, 2017
Department of Defense Extends Online Military Exchange Shopping Privileges to Veterans
Release No: NR-010-17
Jan. 13, 2017
PRINT | E-MAIL The Department of Defense announced a policy change that will extend limited online military exchange shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans of the military.
The veterans online shopping benefit will be effective this Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
While shopping privileges exclude the purchase of uniforms, alcohol and tobacco products, it includes the Exchange Services’ dynamic online retail environment known so well to service members and their families. This policy change follows careful analysis, coordination and strong public support.
“We are excited to provide these benefits to honorably discharged veterans to recognize their service and welcome them home to their military family,” said Peter Levine, performing the duties for the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
“In addition, this initiative represents a low-risk, low-cost opportunity to help fund Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs in support of service members’ and their families’ quality of life. And it’s just the right thing to do,” Levine added.
The online benefit will also strengthen the exchanges’ online businesses to better serve current patrons. Inclusion of honorably discharged veterans would conservatively double the exchanges’ online presence, thereby improving the experience for all patrons through improved vendor terms, more competitive merchandise assortments, and improved efficiencies, according to DoD officials.
“As a nation, we are grateful for the contributions of our service members. Offering this lifetime online benefit is one small, tangible way the nation can say, ‘Thank you’ to those who served with honor,” Levine said.
Posted: January 14, 2017
VA’s Rule Establishes a Presumption of Service Connection for Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (1/13/17)
Applications to be accepted for 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will accept applications from Veterans interested in competing in the 2017 National Veterans Golden Age Games beginning Feb. 1. Veterans ages 55 and older and enrolled in VA health care may complete applications online at www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov. Applications will be accepted through March 1. (1/9/17)
VA Urges National and Local Partners to Act Now to End Veteran Homelessness - Robert A. McDonald, Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary today announced a concentrated 30-day effort by VA staff and partners to house as many homeless Veterans in their communities as possible. To accomplish this, Secretary McDonald charged VA’s network of federal, local and nongovernmental partners to target available housing and supportive services to the nation’s most vulnerable Veterans. (1/5/17)
New Members Appointed to VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans - Four new members have been appointed to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, an expert panel that advises VA’s Secretary on issues and programs impacting women Veterans. Established in 1983, the committee makes recommendations to the Secretary for policy and legislative changes. (1/3/17)
VA Study Finds EEG Can Help Tell Apart PTSD & Mild Traumatic Brain Injury - A recent VA study points to a possible breakthrough in differentiating between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), otherwise known as a concussion. (12/20/16)
Veterans Crisis Line Improves Service with New Call Center Opening in Atlanta - The Department of Veteran Affairs cut the ribbon today for its new Veteran Crisis Line (VCL) satellite office in Atlanta allowing the life-saving hotline to expand capacity by nearly 600 Veterans each day essentially doubling VA’s ability to help Veterans in need. (12/20/16)
VA Grants Full Practice Authority to Advance Practice Registered Nurses - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is amending provider regulations to permit full practice authority to three roles of VA advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) to practice to the full extent of their education, training, and certification, regardless of State restrictions that limit such full practice authority, except for applicable State restrictions on the authority to prescribe and administer controlled substances, when such APRNs are acting within the scope of their VA employment. (12/14/16)
VA Study Confirms High Cure Rates With New Hepatitis C Drugs - A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) database study shows that new drug regimens for hepatitis C have resulted in “remarkably high” cure rates among patients in VA's national health care system. (12/13/16)
VA Announces Funding Opportunity for Community Partners Working to End Veteran Homelessness - Building on President Obama’s commitment to end Veteran homelessness, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is announcing the availability of funding for non-profit organizations and other groups that serve Veterans through VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The SSVF program assists very low-income Veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. These SSVF grants are available to current grantees seeking renewals and make new funding available for eight high-need communities. (12/13/16)
VA Recommends 14 Future Sites for Fisher House Construction - The Fisher House offers unique accommodations when a family member is receiving treatment at a VA medical center or military hospital. Located near the medical center or hospital, Fisher Houses offer the comforts of home at no cost to families while treatment is underway. To enable Fisher Houses to expand their good work, Department of Veterans Affairs’ Secretary Robert A. McDonald recommended 14 VA medical centers become priority sites for future Fisher Houses. (12/12/16)
New Regulation Decreases Cost of Outpatient Medication Copay for Most Veterans - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulation on copayments for Veterans’ outpatient medications for non-service connected conditions. VA currently charges non-exempt Veterans either $8 or $9 for each 30-day or less supply of outpatient medication, and under current regulations, a calculation based on the medication of the Medical Consumer Price Index (CPI-P) would be used to determine the copayment amount in future years. (12/12/16)
Letter to the Editor of USA Today, Dated December 8, 2016 - Letter sent to USA Today from Secretary McDonald and Deputy Secretary Gibson (12/9/16)
VA Awards Grant for Veterans Employment Pay for Success Program - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Innovation, together with the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, awarded the Veterans Employment Pay for Success (VEPFS) Program grant to the social investment firm, Social Finance, Inc. (12/9/16)
VA National Cemeteries Now Offering Pre-Need Eligibility Determinations - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery. (12/8/16)
Medical School Association Praises VA’s New National Veteran Health Equity Report - The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), representing medical schools nationwide, is recognizing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiatives to advance equity in health care through VA’s new National Veteran Health Equity Report. The National Veteran Health Equity Report advances understanding of the many factors to be considered when treating Veterans. The report can be used as a tool to set treatment goals for vulnerable Veterans in order to reduce health care disparities they experience. Clinicians in VA and in the private sector are already using the report to understand and better address health issues among diverse patient populations. (12/8/16)
Posted: December 9, 2016
Inside Veterans Health
Suicide Prevention responder Melissa Schwab (at keyboard) relies on health technicians to provide support while engaging a distressed Veteran. Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.
Michael Williams’ personal scorecard was goal oriented, a plan he put together while living on the streets. Homeless for three years, he conquered alcoholism and regained the trust of his family.
Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs find both herbicide exposure and military service are associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) among Army Chemical Corps Vietnam era Veterans.
Army Veteran Major Jeffrey Weinstock is very thankful this week for VA Telehealth. It saves him a 300-mile round-trip from Key West to Miami for a comprehensive hearing exam and new hearing aids
Veterans in Wisconsin spend a weekend at a special camp designed to help them learn about and deal with their diabetes. Veteran Steve Biever lost 56 pounds and thanks a VA nurse for saving his life.
All this week, we will be posting articles and blogs by Veterans talking about “What Veterans Day Means to Me.” Kicking off the week with a salute from a former Navy SEAL very proud of his service.
VA has a six-week online interactive workshop that offers training in how to provide better care. It also helps caregivers learn how to manage their own emotions, stress and physical health.
Are you ready to make your choices? Advance Care Planning: Your preferences for future health care. Advance Directive: Tell others your preferences and who you have chosen to be your Health Care Agent.
Introducing Heather Frank, one of VA's and Iowa's, Top Nurses, whose extra effort has helped Vietnam Veterans in her Iowa Veteran Affairs hospital, receive awards for their service.
Vietnam Vet, given grave cancer prognosis, says his top priority is family and his 11-month-old spirited grandson. “When my dad lies down next to him, Jayden just falls asleep.”
There is an alternative to a nursing home for eligible Veterans. VA's Medical Foster Home Program is for Veterans no longer able to safely live independently. Here are two couples who participate.
Posted: September 2, 2016
Women's Health Services Depression Campaign
VA’s Office of Women’s Health Services (WHS) is partnering with the Office of Women's Mental Health to increase awareness about depression as it relates to women Veterans. Today’s woman Veterans could be our sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmothers or great-grandmothers, with several generations of women veterans in a single family unit. The generational, geographic and culturally diverse cohorts of women Veterans may have unique mental health needs when it comes to seeking help, services and treatment for depression.
VA seeks to increase awareness about depression and help inform women Veterans of information and services available to help them understand, identify and seek treatment for depression. Depression is the most common diagnosis among women Veterans. It goes largely unrecognized. The good news is that it is treatable.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR WOMEN VETERANS
VA offers a full range of mental health services for women Veterans, including outpatient, residential and inpatient services. Women Veterans can call the Women’s Call Center at 855-829-6636, or download and read VA’s Mental Health Guide (see page 17) to learn more about the available services, which include assessment and evaluation, medication management, and individual and group psychotherapy. Specialty services are available to target diagnoses such as PTSD, substance abuse, depression, conditions related to military sexual trauma (MST), and homelessness.
There is always hope and VA can help.
Posted: March 17, 2017
VA News Release
VA’s rule establishes presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in water supply at Camp Lejeune
VA to provide disability benefits for related diseases
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are effective as of today.
“Establishing these presumptions is a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The Camp Lejeune presumptions will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”
The presumption of service connection applies to active-duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
• Adult leukemia
• Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
• Bladder cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Liver cancer
• Multiple myeloma
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Parkinson’s disease
The area included in this presumption is all of Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, including satellite camps and housing areas.
This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. The Camp Lejeune Act requires VA to provide health care to Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, and to reimburse family members or pay providers for medical expenses for those who resided there for not fewer than 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.