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Veterans Report - Week of August 11, 2014

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:56 am
by boardman
Veterans Report - Week of August 11, 2014

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Texas Offers Veterans Benefit Programs
Gov. Rick Perry has launched a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of state resources available to help Texas veterans navigate the Veterans Administration health care system. The PSA directs veterans to call the Texas Veterans Hotline at 1-800-252-8387 (VETS) for assistance with accessing VA health care benefits. The Texas Cable Association and Texas Association of Broadcasters will air the PSA on their respective member networks and on-line throughout the state. Perry has also asked Texas hospitals and medical clinics to open their doors to Texas veterans who have faced bureaucratic challenges in accessing health care through the VA. But, but they cannot begin treating VA patients until the VA gives them authorization and ensures timely reimbursement of the cost of care provided. The PSA is available at (

Latest VA Patient Access Data
The Department of Veterans Affairs has released the latest update of facility-level patient access data. The current data shows the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has reached out to over 217,000 Veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics. VA has also decreased the number of Veterans on the Electronic Waiting List (EWL) 40 percent within a two month period. More than 22,000 Veterans have received accelerated appointments and have been removed from the EWL. The update is available on the ( VA Access Audit webpage.

President Signs New VA Health Care Law
President Barack Obama signed the bill to improve access to health care for veterans and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. The $16.3 billion bill will enable VA to recruit more doctors, nurses and other medical providers to care for the surging number of veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans on long VA waiting lists and those who live far from VA facilities may see private doctors or go to community health centers, Department of Defense facilities and Indian Health Centers. The new law will also pay for leasing 27 new clinics in 18 states and Puerto Rico. A summary of the bill is available on the ( ... nline=file) U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs website. ( ... -get-care/) Read more about the new law on the Military Advantage blog.

The Legion Calls for Education Review
The American Legion wants an investigation of all DoE-contracted student loan servicers that have lent to servicemembers, not just the servicer that is known to have violated federal law. In letters written to House and Senate leaders, the Legion has requested that both chambers of Congress implore the Department of Education to audit all of its contracted private lenders that have lent to servicemembers for potential violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). If you are a student veteran who feels that you have been misled by a student loan servicer in applying for student loans or receiving benefits under the SCRA, email ( and explain the incident.

The Legion to Broadcast from Convention
The American Legion will be streaming live several events from its 96th National Convention, Aug. 22-28, in Charlotte, N.C. These events include: (1) Color Guard Competition - Aug. 22, 5 p.m.; (2) Memorial Service - Aug. 24, 11 a.m.; (3) General Session Day 1 - Aug. 26, 8 a.m.; (4) General Session Day 2 - Aug. 27, 9 a.m.; and (5) General Session Day 3 - Aug. 28, 9 a.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time, and are tentative and/or subject to change. The events will be streamed live on the ( American Legion Livestream webpage. Visit the ( American Legion website for stories, videos and photos during the national convention.

New VA Secretary's Message
The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, ( Robert A. McDonald, has released a message to all Department of Veterans Affairs employees. The message is available on the ( VA website.

VA Survey for Idaho Vets
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo is inviting Idahoans to share their VA experiences with him through a brief survey. Veterans can complete the survey online through ( Senator Crapo's website. Idaho veterans can also call one of Senator Crapo's offices to have a staff member administer the survey: Washington, DC, 202-224-6142; Idaho State Office (Boise), 208-334-1776; South-Central Idaho (Twin Falls), 208-734-2515. Also, veterans can visit any of Senator Crapo's regional offices to take the survey in person. Friends and families of veterans are also welcome to take the survey to share their experiences.

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VA to Issue Choice Cards
Stars and Stripes reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs plans to issue a 'Veteran's Choice Card.' The new card will buy care from non-VA care providers for veterans if they face long waits for VA care -- defined initially as more than 30 days -- or if they reside more than 40 miles from VA care. The intent is to eliminate VA patient wait lists. The new card will be an informational insurance card to be presented to non-VA health care providers to identify the veteran and to verify eligibility for episodes of care that, sometime earlier, were arranged through and approved by a VA care coordinator. ( ... -get-care/) Read more in the Military Update.

Warrior Transitions
2014 MOAA/NDIA Warrior-Family Symposium Sept. 10, in Washington, DC addresses warrior transitions & challenges. The 2014 Warrior-Family will address the matters and needs that currently serving, veterans, their children, spouses and caregivers face when navigating the transition from the military into a civilian environment while managing challenges of combat/ operational stress, mental health or behavioral health care concerns. ( Sign up today for the FREE event today.

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AF to Consolidate Museums
Two Air Force Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland museums, the Airman Heritage Museum and the Security Forces Museum, will consolidate into the Enlisted Heritage and Character Development Center by October, 2014 and will serve as a stepping stone for a larger $50 million, privately-funded museum set to open in 2017. Both the interim facility and the new building will be accessible to the public and have a role in the education of every new Air Force recruit going through basic military training. The future 85,000-square-foot center, will be built on the north end of the Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) parade field, and is a joint venture between the Air Force and the Airman Heritage Foundation.
To learn more about the center and how to be involved, visit the ( U. S. Air Force Airman Heritage Museum website.

VA to Hold Town Hall Events
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald has directed all Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare and benefits facilities to hold town hall events by the end of September to improve communication with, and hear directly from, Veterans nationwide. The meetings will be designed to allow feedback from Veterans, family members and other beneficiaries. Each facility will also welcome input from Congressional stakeholders, Veteran Service Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and other community partners. Details of events in each location will be forthcoming from local facilities.

New VA Law Saves TBI Program
Stars and Stripes reports that a new law reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs will also save a pilot program to rehabilitate veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The three-year extension of the program was included in the bill. The pilot program help veterans with moderate to severe TBI to receive 24-hour team-based care at the facilities that helps them improve speech, mobility and memory. Patients are able to advance from wheelchairs to canes and gain self-respect from being more independent. The services are provided at 150 sites across the United States. For more information on TBI and VA services, visit ( VA's Polytrauma/TBI System of Care website.

Legion to Feature Employment Workshops
The American Legion's 2014 National Convention will offer training, resources, and networking opportunities for veterans and servicemembers who are looking for jobs. Veterans, active-duty military, and their spouses are invited to participate in the two-day Employment and Empowerment Summit in Charlotte, N.C., from Aug. 25-26, which will feature panel discussions with employment experts, workshops on what employers want and resume writing, networking receptions and wraps up with a Hiring Our Heroes job fair on day two. The event, which is free of charge, coincides with The American Legion's 96th National Convention. ( ... G7W0x.dpuf) Get more details at the American Legion website. Attendees can pre-register for the job fair on the ( ... n-national) U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes website.

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Did 'Bold Goals' Spark the VA Crisis?
Some are asking if the unrealistic, unfunded goal to cut wait times in half for patients seeking care finally put VA administrators under such pressure that many chose to manipulate performance data, compromise their integrity and even put patients at risk. ( ... me-crisis/) Read more about the impact the goals had on the VA and veterans health care.

Where to Get a Veteran ID Card
The federal government does not issue a veteran ID card for the purpose of discounts at retailers and restaurants. However, many states have veteran ID cards that can be used to receive discounts from retailers and restaurants. Veterans can request the ID card from their local Department of Motor Vehicles. The following information is often times required: (1) an honorable discharge status from the U.S. Armed Forces; (2) a DD214; and (3) a valid, unexpired driver's license. Meanwhile, the Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC), issued by VA, is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. Veterans can request a VHIC at their next VA health-care appointment.

Operation Homefront
Operation Homefront provides direct services to alleviate a military family's or individual's actual/complete emergency financial burden, as well as counseling and/or recovery support. Emergency financial assistance is in the form of checks paid directly to mortgage lenders, auto mechanics, contractors, hospitals, doctors, dentists and other providers. Other emergency funding assistance, which an applicant receives within 24 to 72 hours, can include emergency food, emergency home repairs, critical baby items, furniture and household items, home and appliance repair, local moving assistance, Wounded Warrior transitional family housing, and community events. For more information, visit the ( Operation Homefront website.