Veterans Benefits Information

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Veterans Benefits Information

Pandemic Mars Putin’s Coronation and Endangers Russia’s Veterans

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President Vladimir Putin’s grand plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II, and his own leadership, may be foiled by the coronavirus, which also threatens war heroes.

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VA fights to flatten the curve against COVID-19

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is working directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the virus and implement an aggressive public health response to the novel COVID-19 pandemic. To date, VA has administered over 7,425 COVID-19 tests nationwide while taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Measures include outreach to veteran patients and staff, screening at VA health care facilities, and protective procedures for VA’s most vulnerable patients admitted to community living centers and spinal cord injury units.

“The American people can be proud that we have the most comprehensive veterans assistance of any nation in the world. And all of us can be assured that the VA is ready to help stop the spread of the coronavirus,” wrote VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a Military Times op-ed. “The VA has proudly served as a frontline responder after natural disasters such as the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and our southern states, and VA is preparing to play that role again during this national emergency,” said Wilkie. “In fact, we have already deployed some of our staff to assist the Department of Health and Human Services, and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak.”

In efforts to bolster medical staffs, VA requested a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to make it easier for the department to rehire retired VA health care workers and which will help VA health care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. VA is inviting interested retired physicians, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, respiratory therapists and other medical professionals to register online.

“This action helps give the department surge capacity as needed,” said Wilkie. “On behalf of all the veterans we serve, I thank OPM for its quick action and invite our retired health care workers to consider coming back to VA during this crucial time.”

To do your part in flattening the curve in the COVID-19 pandemic, VA and the CDC released these advised precautions:

  • Practice social distancing

  • Get a flu shot

  • Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Avoid people who are sick

  • Stay home and away from others when sick

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues or your arm/sleeve. Dispose of tissues in the trash.

  • Keep surfaces clean using disinfecting wipes

  • Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel.

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.


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Introduced legislation will protect student veterans during COVID-19 crisis

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Many schools and universities have taken proactive measures to mitigate the spread of the spread of COVID-19, leaving veterans with questions surrounding their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits. Bipartisan legislation introduced by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs would minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students.

“As we respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot forget about our student veterans,” said committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif. “This bill package will make key fixes so veterans can continue their studies without interruption, loss of income, or unexpected bills.”

The American Legion lauded the bipartisan efforts of the committee to protect student veterans during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have been honored to work with Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Phil Roe as we continue to learn about second and third-order effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student veterans,” said American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford. “The American Legion applauds the leadership of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in these challenging times and urges prompt passage of the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act.”

The bipartisan legislation would protect work-study allowances, vocational rehabilitation and GI Bill housing allowance payments in the event of sudden school closures for student veterans. Critically, the bill ensures that students whose schools close but cannot transition to an online curriculum are able to maintain their eligibility next semester.

“We worked hard to assure student veterans that the support they count on from the GI Bill to cover tuition and housing costs won’t be taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ranking Member Phil Roe, R-Tenn. “I am proud to introduce this bill with Chairman Takano today to give them further confidence that the benefits they earned will be waiting for them on the other side of this crisis.”

The Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 builds on S. 3503, which authorized VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted in the event of national emergencies. This allows for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training. The president signed S. 3503 into law on March 21.

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.


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Toolkit can help posts conduct Buddy Checks during the pandemic

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A new toolkit to help American Legion posts touch base with veterans in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic is now available. “How to Perform a Buddy Check During the Coronavirus Pandemic” offers tips about how to reach veterans who may be sheltering and social distancing to find out if they need assistance.

The toolkit explains how to assemble a Buddy Check team and how to acquire the names of Legionnaires, past and present, so they can be contacted. The kit also has sample scripts for Buddy Check callers.

Click here to download the toolkit.


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VA COVID-19 news: hiring retired staff, GI Bill benefits continue

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Each day brings an increase to the number of coronavirus cases and deaths nationwide. And VA medical staff and patients are among these numbers.

COVID-19 positive cases at VA hospitals stand at 484 with seven patient deaths. And 75 VA employees have tested positive for the virus.

The Department of Veteran Affairs is doing everything it can to put safety measures in place to handle the ever-increasing demand that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on VA facilities. VA has released information regarding access to VA facilities and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus. They also are in need of more medical staff and are offering re-employment for retired VA health-care staff.

VA is looking for health-care providers with interest and expertise in:

- Telehealth/virtual care

- Travel nurse corps

- Direct patient care/support (at a VA medical center and/or outpatient clinic)

For former VA clinicians interested in re-employment, apply online. VA officials are promising expedited hiring practices and dual compensation waivers for potential recruits, so that they don’t have to give up federal retirement benefits in order to start assisting at department medical centers.

Additional VA updates related to COVID-19

GI Bill benefits. Online learning has become the new norm for student veterans as campuses have shut down to the coronavirus outbreak. Student veterans will continue to receive their GI Bill benefits under bill S.3503, which President Trump signed into law March 21. According to VA, this law enables VA to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students having to take courses online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It also continues to provide GI Bill student veterans with the same monthly housing allowance until Dec. 21, or until in-person classes are resumed.

While students receiving GI Bill benefits are not required to take any action. GI Bill benefits will continue automatically without student veterans taking any action. However, if a student veteran has questions, they may contact the Education Call Center at (888) 442-4551.

Funeral services. Effective as of March 23, VA announced that “committal services and the rendering of military funeral honors will discontinue until further notice” for the safety of veterans, their families and VA staff in response to the coronavirus. Immediate family members of no more than 10 of the deceased may witness the interment if requested.

Families of deceased veterans who still wish to continue with interment may schedule a committal service for a later date by calling the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117 or schedule a burial arrangement online here.

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.


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