Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Commander to testify before Congress

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National Commander Fang A. Wong will address a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees today, touching on issues such as veterans unemployment, the claims backlog, and post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Any member of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary or Sons of The American Legion can attend the national commander's testimony, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Room G-50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building on 1st and C St. NE.

Those who cannot attend the testimony in person can get video highlights on Point papers and other documents will also be available on the Legion website.

After Wong testifies, Legionnaires will descend upon Capitol Hill to meet with their respective senators and representatives, sharing issues of concern that the Legion has, including veterans benefits and a double-digit unemployment rate among veterans.

"What's very important for us is what happens after (Wong's testimony)," the national commander told Legionnaires during a Tuesday legislative briefing. "You all need to carry the ball to the finish line. Stick to the basic issues ... and remember that all politics are local. Remind them that you represent a large portion of their voting bloc. Let them know that we will support them if they support us.

"When they see The American Legion cap, they know you represent 2.4 million members of The American Legion and 24 million veterans. You speak with a very big stick."


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Computers Reading Doctors' Notes?

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With electronic health records, computers have proven their worth in tracking, sorting and displaying data. A new study by research from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showed computers that scan doctors' notes can reduce dangerous complications after surgery.

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Fishing for Freedom

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In Lake Ramona, Ga., volunteers and military supporters commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by honoring some of the men and women who fought against the terrorist groups behind the tragedy. Almost 100 servicemembers, National Guardsmen and Gold Star family members participated in Fishing for Freedom - an event that honored the veterans of the current wars by taking them out for a day of fishing. The Fifth District of the Legion's Department of Georgia helped coordinate and support the Sept. 10 outing.

"This activity not only touched other lives but touched my life forever. We must do more," said Carlis Baker, event organizer and member of Post 143 in Carrollton, Ga.

Veterans and wounded warriors - some of whom drove as long as five hours to participate - were the guests of the Walters family, owners of Lake Ramona. Members of the family volunteered their time at the event and gave participants fishing equipment. All day, 10 fishing boats shuttled attendees around the lake, and food and drinks were provided.

Legionnaires from Georgia's Fifth District volunteered and participated, along with members of the Sons of The American Legion and Auxiliary. A Georgia National Guard unit assembled fishing poles, and local JROTC cadets coordinated parking and performed a flag ceremony at the onset of the event.

"I was extremely impressed with the event that Carlis and his team put on - so very professional and well executed and for me personally, very moving," J.R. Ince, owner of a tackle manufacturing company in nearby Canton, Ga. "I was in tears a few times. Actually talking with these folks, and seeing the devastating sadness in the eyes and voices of the kids, is so much different than just hearing about the family tragedies on the evening news."

The Walters family and the Fifth District of Georgia plan on hosting another Fishing for Freedom event March 25, 2012, where an additional 25 military families are expected to attend.

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Informational Report- Community Based Outpatient Clinic Cyclical Reports Fiscal Year 2012 (9/20/2011)

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The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) began a systematic review of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) community based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) in FY 2009. The purpose of this report is to describe the study design of the CBOC reviews for October 2011 through September 2012. The report describes the CBOC inspection process which consists of four components: (1) CBOC site-specific information gathering and review, (2) medical record reviews for determining compliance with VHA and The Joint Commission standards and regulations, (3) on-site inspections, and (4) CBOC contract review.

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Legion praised for Veterans Court resolution

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In a recent press release, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals' Justice For Vets said it was "honored" that support for the Veterans Treatment Courts was included in one of the 23 passed by The American Legion during its 2011 National Convention in Minneapolis.

Among other things, Resolution No. 109 urges Congress to continue to fund the establishment and expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts, and recommends the various Legion departments and posts provide non-monetary assistance and support to veteran treatment courts by having department service officers serve on the Veteran Treatment Court or having volunteers provide information on VA benefits and services.

"The American Legion is committed to help returning servicemembers in Veterans Treatment Courts to access their VA benefits," said Jacob Gadd, deputy director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. "We have more than 2,000 professionally trained service officers across the country, and we look forward to working with Justice For Vets to provide valuable training for our service officers to be active with Veteran Treatment Courts in their communities."

Veterans Treatment Courts operate similar to Drug Courts but serve only military veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental illness. They promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional community and criminal justice partners found in Drug Courts, with the addition of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans' Benefits Administration, state veterans agencies/departments, volunteer veteran mentors, veterans service organizations and veterans' family support groups. Since the first Veterans Treatment Court launched in January 2008, approximately 80 programs have been created with hundreds more being planned.

"The American Legion has been one of the mainstays of Veterans Treatment Court," said former Tulsa County Veterans Treatment Court Judge Sarah Smith. "Their members have enthusiastically embraced our program since its inception and helped numerous participants file claims, reinstate benefits and navigate the VA. Their encouragement, professionalism, and support have been a tremendous asset to our veterans and our team. All courts should reach out to The American Legion and other veterans service organizations in their community."

"So many veterans benefit by having Service Officers in court navigate and cut the red tape to receive the disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education benefits and other services earned through their time in our Armed Forces," said Matt Stiner, Justice For Vets Director of Development and Outreach. "With 14,000 posts worldwide, I have no doubt that all Veterans Treatment Courts have an American Legion Post within reach. We are profoundly proud of their support and look forward to seeing more Veterans Treatment Courts partnering with The American Legion to better serve our veterans."

For questions about Veteran Treatment Courts, please contact the VA&R Division at (202)861-2700 or via email.


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