Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

VA Grant Supports Construction of Utah Veterans Facility

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is awarding more than $12.4 million for the state of Utah to construct a new Veterans home in Ivins City.

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VA Awards More than $300,000 to Wisconsin Veterans Home

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is awarding more than $300,000 for maintenance and repair of the water tower at the Wisconsin Veterans home in King.

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Legion commends House defense of DoD budget

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The American Legion expresses its gratitude to the House of Representatives today for passing legislation that seeks to protect the Department of Defense from massive budget cuts, as Washington struggles to find answers to the federal deficit crisis. “This is a measure that echoes The American Legion’s firm belief that a strong and properly funded military is vital to our nation’s wellbeing,” National Commander Fang A. Wong said in response to the May 10 House vote on the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (H.R. 5652). The measure passed by a 218-199 vote. “It is heartening to know that the men and women of the House, by virtue of their action, are truly concerned about the negative, possibly disastrous, effects that massive, automatic cuts in our nation’s defense funding would have on our security,” Wong said. “If history teaches us anything, it is that a nation unprepared for emerging threats, such as we face today, will ultimately pay a higher price in blood and treasure. House members, by and large, appear to have heeded this lesson. The act is excellent in principle and a good and necessary argument in the vital debate over our military’s future.” The measure would provide protections for the DoD budget in fiscal 2013, the first year of automatic cutbacks due to be imposed in order to reduce the federal deficit. Throughout its 93-year history, The American Legion has steadfastly supported a strong national defense. In a 500-word resolution originally adopted last fall and reiterated recently, The American Legion argued, in part, that “... a strong, adequately funded American military is essential for global peace and prosperity in the 21st century... leadership within the Department of Defense (DoD) has continually warned that significant reductions in defense spending pose serious risks to the future security of the United States (and) further cuts to the DoD budget will do irreversible and irreparable harm to the military capability of the United States to defend the nation.” The resolution concludes, “that The American Legion demand Congress and the Administration cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level.” The Legion’s stand against undue cuts in defense spending was recognized by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement following the vote. “House members... are joined by a broad coalition of veterans organizations who believe it is critical that we not jeopardize support for our troops and their families,” he said. “They also know it is critical for those who take an oath to defend America (that they receive) every advantage possible and every tool available to accomplish that sacred mission.” The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act will now be considered by the Senate, where it is subject to debate and revision before a vote.

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Veterans of Different Eras Prepare for Competition at 26th National Veterans Golden Age Games

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More than 700 Veterans will travel to St. Louis, Mo., May 31 - June 5 to compete in the 26th National Veterans Golden Age Games, a national sports and recreation competition sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV), and Veterans Canteen Service (VCS).

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Legion issues report on VA rural health care

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The American Legion released its final report May 9 on the quality of rural health care being provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report is based on information collected by the Legion’s System Worth Saving (SWS) Task Force, which evaluated VA medical centers across the country from last November to February.

Verna Jones, director of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, said the Legion wanted to take a close look at VA health care in more remote locations because the number of veterans living in rural areas continues to grow.

“Our rural veterans have fewer primary-care and specialty-care services provided by VA,” Jones said. “It also takes a lot longer for them to cover all those extra miles to health-care facilities. If you live in Gallup, N.M., but need treatment at the VA hospital in Albuquerque, that means a three-hour drive along Interstate 40.”

Task force staff interviewed a variety of administrators, staff and patients at VA medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics, rural health resource centers and sites for Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home). They conducted several focus groups with rural veterans to discuss the quality of VA health care, and also visited the Navajo and Pueblo nations to get a better understanding of health-care challenges faced by American Indian veterans.

Jacob Gadd, deputy director of health in the VA&R Division, said that several concerns were raised in the report, such as VA’s definition of veterans who live in rural and highly rural areas. “Veterans tell us they aren’t really concerned whether they are classified as rural or highly rurai,” he said. “They only care about how far away primary care or specialty care is from their front door.”

According to statistics published in 2010, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) classified 36.4 percent of its enrolled veterans as “rural” and 1.5 percent as “highly rural.” The 2010 Journal of Rural Health said that VHA’s rural category “is very large and broadly dispersed; policy makers should supplement analyses of rural veterans’ health care needs with more detailed breakdowns. Most of VHA’s highly rural enrollees live in the western United States, where distances to care are great and alternative delivery systems may be needed.”

The Legion’s report made several recommendations to VA on how to improve the delivery of medical care to rural veterans, including:

  • Improve incentive programs to recruit and retain top talent in rural health-care facilities.
  • Implement a Veterans Transportation Service Department for each of the 152 VA medical centers.
  • Create new criteria for defining rural and highly rural veterans, rather than using the Census Bureau’s definition.
  • Continue the expansion of community-based outpatient clinics and mobile clinics.
  • Identify successful ARCH locations and continue services in these areas after completion of the pilot program
  • Expand telehealth capabilities for veterans without phone lines or Internet access in their homes.

Printed copies of the report are being delivered to members of Congress on the Appropriations and Veterans Affairs committees in the House and Senate. Copies will also be delivered to President Obama, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and other VA officials.

SWS task force members evaluated VA facilities in 13 states: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

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