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Veterans Benefits Information

VA expands specialty care in rural areas

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced it is launching a nationwide specialty health-care program for veterans in rural areas, based on the Project Echo pilot program currently operating at 11 VA medical centers.

The new program, Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (SCAN-ECHO), will give training, advice and support to primary care providers (PCPs) so they can deliver specialty care to VA patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hepatitis C and congestive heart failure.

“The SCAN-ECHO model allows the VA medical community to treat a greater number of patients than the current structure,” said Jacob Gadd, deputy director of health for The American Legion. “In a sense, it takes a primary care provider from saying to the patient, ‘Let me refer you to a specialist,’ to saying ‘I can diagnose and treat your condition.’ It is going to help increase the confidence and competence of PCPs by teaching them best practices for specialty care.”

The effectiveness of the Project Echo/SCAN-ECHO model has been supported by multiple research trials, Gadd said, as well as articles published in “Health Affairs” and “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Not only will the expanded program improve the continuity of care, it will also:

  • Reduce wait times at specialty clinics,
  • Mitigate difficulties in recruiting specialists for rural areas,
  • Increase certifications for the delivery of specialized medicines,
  • Enhance the professional development and satisfaction of PCPs, and
  • Build local, sustainable centers of medical excellence.

Brian Bertges, the Legion’s assistant director of policy research, said that SCAN-ECHO may also produce some indirect savings. “Since the program targets access for rural veterans, VA may see a decrease in mileage reimbursements because veterans’ travel time will be reduced.

“VA may also see more savings in the area of fee-based services. Instead of referring veterans to specialists in their local communities, more PCPs in the VA system will be able to provide that kind of care,” Bertges said.

Project Echo has been supported by a three-year, $5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 


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Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs honors DePaul law student as ‘Veteran of the Month’ for July

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CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) has honored Daniel Sylvester, a DePaul University law student and U.S. Army veteran, at its July 2012 “Veteran of the Month.”Sylvester was honored during a ceremony Monday evening at the law offices of Holland & Knight in Chicago. The Illinois Veteran of the Month award is a distinction bestowed upon military veterans who continue to serve their communities after leaving the military.

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Register for National Americanism Conference

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Registration for The American Legion’s 14th annual National Americanism Conference in Indianapolis, Sept. 28-30, is available online at www.legion.org/cacregistration. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel.

Those attending the three-day event must register online, regardless if planning to stay at either of the conference hotels. Once registration is complete, links will be provided to make hotel reservations at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel or the Hilton Garden Inn. Hotel registration deadline is Aug. 27.

The conference is an opportunity for Legion Baseball chairmen, Oratorical chairmen, Boys State directors and department chaplains to network and brainstorm with each other about their respective program in an effort to keep the Legion’s Americanism programs successful and thriving.


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VA Announces New Grants to Help End Veterans Homelessness

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today the award of nearly $100 million in grants that will help approximately 42,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants are going to 151 community agencies in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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Veterans Benefits “Supermarket” A Huge Success

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December 7, 2011

With more than 2,700 veterans and their families taking part, Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Pete Wheeler termed the 2011 “Supermarket of Veterans Benefits” held Dec. 7 in Dalton, “a huge success, one of the better events of this type for veterans we have had in recent years.”


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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.