Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Veterans Benefits Information

HUD, VA to Provide Permanent Housing, Case Management to Nearly 100 Homeless Veterans

E-mail Print PDF
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide nearly $1 million to public housing authorities in the District of Columbia, Tallahassee, Fla., and Providence, R.I. to supply permanent housing and case management for nearly 100 homeless veterans in America. The funding is provided through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) funding to support homeless veterans.

Read More

Healthcare Inspection Management of Patient Abuse Cases Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Augusta, Georgia (9/21/2011)

E-mail Print PDF
OIG conducted an inspection to determine the validity of allegations that two patient abuse cases were not managed properly, and as a result, patients were placed at risk at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Augusta, GA. We substantiated that some staff members and managers did not comply with policies for reporting patient abuse, evaluating victims of the alleged abuse, or evaluating the events. We also substantiated that some managers did not take appropriate or timely administrative action relative to the events. While non-compliance with policy may potentially place patients at risk, we found no evidence that patients were actually harmed by these procedural breaches. We substantiated that a senior executive acted improperly in relation to the administrative action in the case of substantiated patient abuse and that responsible managers did not report a nurse to the State Licensing Board as required. We recommended that the Medical Center Director ensure that: appropriate staff are trained regarding reporting and evaluation of alleged patient abuse cases and the AIB process; and AIBs are completed timely, actions are implemented and tracked to completion, and SLB reporting is completed when indicated. The VISN and Medical Center Directors concurred with our recommendations and provided acceptable action plans.

Read More

Wong to Congress: Address vet employment

E-mail Print PDF

As the federal government deals with a trillion dollar budget deficit, many difficult spending and reduction decisions will need to be made. And while The American Legion completely understands this predicament, it doesn't want those decisions to strip away or pare down benefits that America's veterans truly have earned.

National Commander Fang A. Wong presented that message during a Wednesday hearing in front of a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. Wong presented the Legion's legislative priorities during the hearing, focusing on veterans employment, the Department of Veterans Affairs' claims backlog, and the treatment of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

But before he finished, Wong made it clear the Legion's stance on dealing with the budget crisis.

"The American Legion understands the financial challenges our nation now faces," he said. "The Legion understands that tough spending decisions are coming. That is why the Legion greatly appreciates the assurances our veterans have been given - from members of Congress, (VA Secretary Eric Shinseki) and the president himself at our national convention - that benefits earned by those who've served our country in uniform won't be sacrificed to achieve budget goals. Our veterans have sacrificed enough. They have paid in full their debt to society. However, the debt society owes them is quite another matter, and it's a matter that The American Legion strongly believes this committee is willing to address."

Wong said Congress needs to pass the Military Construction and VA Appropriations measure by Oct. 1 to assure a seamless transmission of benefits to veterans. "Don't condemn VA to another round of uncertainty through a series of continuing resolutions," Wong said. "You are so close to the finish line. Help start this fiscal year off on the right foot for veterans."

Wong spoke at length about the job crisis facing the country's veterans - a figure of more than 1 million veterans without employment, including 632,000, ages 35-60. Congress can pass legislation creating incentives to promote the hiring of veterans to help reduce those figures. "Civilian licensing agencies must recognize military training, education and experience when a veteran transitions to the civilian workforce," Wong said. "A soldier who drives a truck in a convoy through hazardous routes in Iraq can drive a truck to get eggs to market on time in the American Midwest. A Navy corpsman who saved Marines on the battlefields of Afghanistan has the skills to render emergency aid as an EMT back home. Yet the education, training and experience garnered from military service is not recognized by civilian licensing and certification agencies.

"The American Legion urges Congress to work with DoD, the Department of Labor and VA to find a way to translate these skills and put these veterans to work where they can make an impact. They have already proven they know how to do these things. Give them a chance to use these valuable capabilities in the workplace."

Wong said a key to turning around the unemployment crisis is a stronger effort by the federal government to hire veterans. "Eighty percent of veterans employed by the federal government are employed by one of three departments - Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs," he said. "Surely there are other areas where veterans can be key contributors. Like the civilian workplace, federal employers need to realize the military prepares people to be team players, top-notch planners and winners. We need to stop asking why the Departments of Education, the Interior, or Energy would hire a veteran and start asking ‘why not?' If we're going to show America's private employers that a veteran has the job skills to succeed in any environment, the government needs to set the example."

But, Wong said, the private sector must also be involved. He praised Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, as well as her House counterpart, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), for legislation they've advanced that provide incentives for hiring veterans.

"The American Legion hopes you will collaborate and bring your parties together to get a jobs bill for America's veterans passed," Wong said. "It is our obligation as a nation to ensure that every single member of the military who chooses to leave the military can effectively transfer his or her education, training and experience into a civilian career field."

Wong also addressed a VA claims backlog of more than 1 million that leaves many veterans footing the bill for their medication or treatment. "Some are forced to choose between medication and food on the table," he said. "Some go into massive debt while waiting for VA to rule; even a retroactive settlement can't repair a credit history or return a home lost through a mortgage default."

Accuracy, Wong said, is the only way to shrink the backlog. "Unfortunately, VA still is using speed as the primary measurement of success," he said. "But as we all know, when we rush, we make errors. Who pays the price when errors are made in this instance? I'll tell you who: the veteran, who may see a claims process go from nine months to five years because of one error.

"VA needs to develop a better mechanism for tracking errors, and it needs to use the knowledge of those errors to make a better training system. Everyone makes mistakes; the key is the ability to learn from those mistakes and avoid them in the future. VA and others will complain that training time takes away from time spent working on claims, but do you want somebody working on those claims if they don't know how to do it right?"

A key to reducing the backlog, Wong said, is VA and DoD getting back on track with the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record. "The GAO report last February that highlighted severe problems with implementation is troubling to The American Legion, which has been promised more seamless transitions for years," he said. "The VLER needs to be a coordinated effort, with frequent and clear lines of communication, to be effective. "

Wong also briefed the committee on the Legion's ad-hoc committee on PTS and TBI, which has met several times and heard from national experts on mental health, and military, VA and private-sector specialists to consider new strategies to meet the needs of veterans suffering from either condition.

"If this American Legion committee has learned one thing, it's that there is no magic bullet for curing post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and if the treatment works, regardless of what the treatment is, it should be used to help the suffering veteran," Wong said. "Prescriptions are not always the only answer, and sometimes, drugs only make the condition worse, especially if they are drugs issued under a ‘fail first' philosophy when medical science is absolutely sure of the efficiency of other drugs.

"Other options need to be explored. And the cost of researching and implementing those options shouldn't be an issue. The toll of war does not end at discharge. For those who are disabled, physically or mentally, it is a lifelong engagement."

Read More

Combined Assessment Program Review of the West Texas VA Health Care System Big Spring, Texas (9/21/2011)

E-mail Print PDF
The purpose of the review was to evaluate selected operations, focusing on patient care administration and quality management (QM). During the review, OIG provided crime awareness briefings to 63 employees. This review focused on seven operational activities. The facility complied with selected standards in the following two activities (1) coordination of care and (2) management of workplace violence. OIG made recommendations for improvement in the following five activities: (1) QM, (2) enteral nutrition safety, (3) environment of care, (4) physician credentialing and privileging, and (5) registered nurse competencies.

Read More

Legion fights TRICARE increases

E-mail Print PDF

The American Legion sternly opposes plans to increase out-of-pocket health-care costs for military retirees, American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said after learning that the White House recommends increasing TRICARE premiums and charging new annual fees to help reduce the federal deficit.

"President Obama told more than 10,000 Legionnaires at our national convention less than a month ago that the budget would not be balanced on the backs of veterans," Wong said. "Military retirees are veterans. And their benefits, including TRICARE medical insurance, cannot be milked to make ends meet. Make no mistake about it. This is an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of veterans. Military retirees are a small target in the middle of a big problem. They should not be asked to forfeit any of their health-care benefits to solve it. "

The Washington Post reported this week that the administration's deficit-reduction plan would raise TRICARE co-payments for pharmaceuticals to put them more in line with coverage provided to other federal employees and begin charging a first-ever $200 annual enrollment fees for TRICARE For Life, a Medicare supplement, beginning in 2013.

"We fully understand the federal deficit crisis, but when you start stripping benefits for military retirees, you affect more than the budget - you affect national security," Wong said. "Not only is such a reduction a breach of contract with our current military retirees, it is a disincentive for anyone willing to make a career of military service. Those who serve our nation in uniform, and swear with their lives to protect our freedoms, are not the same as ordinary government employees."

Wong added that the same argument applies to plans for a new commission to examine ways to change the current military retirement system and bring it more in line with other federal careers.

"These are not ordinary government jobs," Wong said, a retired U.S. Army chief warrant officer. "The sacrifices of those who make careers in the Armed Forces include life-threatening combat, long deployments separated from family, multiple transitions from duty station to duty station, and anything else the nation asks. America has the world's strongest military because good men and women have made commitments to careers in the military knowing they will be rewarded with a decent retirement in the end.

"Any commission examining this issue in order to reduce the cost of military retirement will inherently search for ways to reduce the value of the benefit," Wong added. "That's not good for military retirees. Moreover, it's not good for America's national security."

Read More

Page 2625 of 2671

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.