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WASHINGTON (July 29, 2015) - The American Legion is conducting a national online survey of veterans and their families through Aug. 16 to assess quality, timeliness, access and type of care the Department of Veterans Affairs is providing for those coping with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury.   The 59-question survey -- https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9JJKVQ9 -- will be used to guide The American Legion’s PTSD/TBI Committee and provide an understanding of veteran satisfaction about VA mental health care for a national American Legion PTSD/TBI Symposium in Washington Sept. 26-27. Questions are mostly multiple-choice and can be answered with a single click from a dropdown menu. All information obtained through the survey will be kept confidential and will be used for no other purpose than to better understand VA performance in this area of care.   The survey focuses on veteran satisfaction and levels of perceived benefits with VA’s PTSD/TBI programs, including alternative and complementary treatments. Survey questions include veteran status; gender; era of service; number of times deployed; diagnosis of TBI, PTSD and/or TBI and PTSD; availability of appointments; time and distance to care facilities; treatment type (therapy, medication and complementary and alternative medicine); reported symptoms; efficacy of treatment; and side effects. Personal information will not be used or made available to identify any individual who has completed the survey. See more at: http://www.legion.org/pressrelease/229354/legion-survey-measure-effectiveness-ptsdtbi-treatment#sthash.aAYBkVz6.dpuf
eBenefits Growth Surpasses Goal Two Months Early WASHINGTON – Participation in the joint Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD)eBenefits website topped five million users this week, two months ahead of schedule.  VA established an agency priority goal of reaching five million eBenefits users by the end of fiscal year 2015. VA achieved this early milestone through aggressive outreach efforts and with the support of DoD and its Veterans Service Organization partners. “Veterans are encouraged to enroll in eBenefits and file their claims online through this one-stop shop for benefits-related tools and information,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey. “We have already implemented nearly 60 self-service features and we continue to expand eBenefits capabilities to give Veterans and Servicemembers greater flexibility in securing their information.” The number of eBenefits users is a key measure of VA’s success in improving Veterans’ access to VA benefits and services and is reported on www.performance.gov.    To enroll in eBenefits, Veterans and Servicemembers must obtain a DoD Self-Service Logon (DS Logon), which provides access to several Veterans and military benefits resources using a single username and password.  The service is free and may be obtained online at www.ebenefits.va.gov or in person at a VA Regional Office. “The successful collaboration of eBenefits and DS Logon is just one more example of how the DoD and VA are working together to continue bringing current and former Servicemembers secure online access to the benefits they've earned,” said Mary Dixon, Director of Defense Manpower Data Center. The rapid and continued growth in the utilization of the eBenefits website demonstrates the importance of giving Veterans greater access to information about their own benefits.  In addition to filing claims online and checking the status of those claims, Veterans can also message their VA doctor, order prescription drug refills and obtain official military documents through eBenefits. More than 7.5 million VA letters have been generated and downloaded by Veterans that show proof of disability, income or Veterans preference used in federal or state government hiring.   For more information about VA benefits, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov.     ###
IOWA CITY, Iowa – More than 200 Veterans from across the country are set to participate in one of the nation’s top adaptive golf events for blind and disabled Veterans. The National Veterans Training, Exposure, and Experience (TEE) Tournament will kick off in Iowa City on Sept. 7 and run through Sept. 11. Veterans will golf at several courses in the Iowa City area, including Lake McBride, Kalona Country Club, West Liberty Country Club, Elks Country Club and Blue Top Ridge golf courses. While golf is the featured event, participants also can develop new skills and confidence through participation in other adaptive sports activities including bowling, kayaking, horseback riding, tandem biking, fishing and Frisbee golf. Participation is open to Veterans with visual impairments and other disabilities receiving care at any VA medical facility. VA research and clinical experience verify that physical activity is important to maintaining good health, speeding recovery and improving overall quality of life.   The event is hosted by the Iowa City VA Health Care System, with sponsorship support from Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) and many others. More than 300 volunteers are expected to donate their time and efforts to the event. 
THE VFW SALUTES AMERICA’S ‘GREATEST GENERATION’ WEDNESDAY MARKS THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF V-J DAY   This week, we remember and thank America’s “Greatest Generation” of World War II-era veterans. Victory over Japan Day, September 2, marks the 70th anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender officially ending World War II. Over 16.1 million of America’s bravest service members answered the call to protect our way of life and more than 405,000 men and women gave their lives in our defense. Today, only 1.7 million World War II veterans remain and it is our obligation as American citizens to ensure their triumphs and sacrifices are never forgotten. From Pearl Harbor, Sicily, Normandy, and the Ardennes; at Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and in the Philippines; in the skies over Europe and Japan; on the high seas; in POW camps and liberated concentration camps, to countless other World War II sites – the heroism displayed by our nation’s defenders will forever endure. In the seven decades since the end of the war, time has bared true witness to the achievements and successes World War II veterans accomplished both on the battlefield and once they returned home. These veterans deserve every laurel, honor, tribute and word of praise our grateful nation can bestow. Their committement to the principles of liberty, strength and justice let America to become the nation our founding fathers envisioned. The VFW salutes America’s Greatest Generation and encourages every citizen to remember all those who have served and continue to fight to defend our way of life.      VFW AGAINST CANDIDATE’S CALL TO ELIMINATE THE VA \'IT PROVIDES AN IRREPLACEABLE SERVICE TO THE NATION’S WOUNDED, ILL AND INJURED VETERANS\'   WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is 100 percent against suggestions made by Dr. Ben Carson to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs by moving it under the Department of Defense. The presidential candidate’s remark was made while appearing on the nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey radio program yesterday.  While discussing how to reduce the size of government, Carson questioned why there is a VA, that what it does “should be folded in under the Department of Defense,” that veterans should be given health savings accounts and sent out into the economy, and that VA facilities should be used just for specialized care for traumatic brain injury, limb replacements and research. “I could not disagree with Dr. Carson more,” said John A. Biedrzycki Jr., the national commander of the 1.7 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. “The Defense Department’s focus in the personnel realm is on recruiting and retention. Taking care of veterans is a mission they gladly cede to the VA, which provides a continuum and continuity of care that is unmatched anywhere,” he explained. “To suggest that disabled veterans could be sent out into the economy with a health savings account card overlooks the fact that civilian health care has waiting lists of their own, that private practices often limit the number of government plan patients they accept due to low reimbursement rates, and presupposes that civilian doctors have the same skillsets as VA doctors, who see veterans of every age and malady every day. And to suggest that VA medical facilities should only be used for traumatic brain injuries, limb replacements and research ignores the entire mission and purpose of the VA,” he said. “The VFW is 100 percent against any effort to privatize or diminish the effectiveness of the VA,” said Biedrzycki. “It provides an irreplaceable service to the nation’s wounded, ill and injured veterans, and my organization will not let any candidate for any office suggest anything otherwise.” Hear Carson’s comments at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=814&v=VfGQG7oH-CY.   VFW’S MOTION GRANTED: UNSEAL PRUDENTIAL’S SGLI RECORDS ALL DOCUMENTS HAD REMAINED SEALED AT PRUDENTIAL’S REQUEST   KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued a ruling that grants a motion filed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) to unseal documents related to the class action lawsuit brought against the Prudential Insurance Company of America, subject to certain exceptions. The suit was filed in response to the company’s administration of the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The underlying case alleged that Prudential failed to pay death benefits to military service members, veterans and their families in the manner required by the laws governing SGLI and the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) programs. That lawsuit was resolved in December 2014 in a nearly $40 million settlement. “We’re pleased with Judge Ponsor’s ruling and now have a lot of work to do. We anxiously await the opportunity to review the documents involving this matter,” said John A. Biedrzycki Jr., VFW national commander. “We want to better understand the manner in which Prudential and the VA have been administering these programs. And through this review, we will continue to be the voice for America’s combat veterans and their families.”  Filing the motion in June 2013, the VFW has consistently taken the position that documents filed by Prudential should be made available to the public. Yesterday’s ruling requires Prudential to disclose all but 16 of the documents it has been arguing should remain from public view. The parties must file all other documents (not redacted) by September 28, 2015, according to the ruling. Prudential has denied wrongdoing throughout the proceedings, but most of the records filed in the case have been sealed from the public at Prudential’s request. The VFW insists that it is in the best interests of the families and the public to fully understand what Prudential has done in connection with its administration of federally subsidized life insurance programs for service members and veterans. Yesterday’s decision underscores that. 
Programs Designed to Help Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans Develop New Skills and Credentials WASHINGTON –  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today launched two new no-cost training programs, Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs, to help transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans from all eras learn skills, earn credentials, and advance in civilian careers following separation from service.  ALPs and Learning Hubs are part of VA’s Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), promoting education and employment opportunities for Veterans through integrated networks of support in 50 cities. VA launched the VECI program in response to President Obama’s August 2014 challenge to help Veterans and families integrate with their communities and find meaningful jobs that can lead to economic success. Under VA Secretary Robert McDonald’sMyVA transformation, VECI is now in place in cities across the United States. “My message to transitioning Servicemembers is simple: Plan early and stay engaged, because transition is the mission,” said McDonald. “These two new resources provide no-cost opportunities for our transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans to learn new skills and earn credentials, which can increase their competitiveness during their transition.” ALPs offer transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans the opportunity to build on their world-class training and technical skills gained through their military service, and earn certifications in high-demand fields. VA is piloting ALPs this summer with seven courses focusing on building skills and certifications needed to advance in high-demand careers in information technology (IT), as part of the President’s TechHire initiative. Each ALP course is offered at no cost and includes free referral and support services..  The first ALP cohort includes seven courses covering a range of IT-related topics, including: ·                Coding/Programming Boot Camps; ·                80+ IT Certifications in Hardware, Software, Networking, Web Services, and more; ·                Network Support Engineer Job Training and Certification; ·                Cybersecurity Training and Certification; ·                IT Help Desk Job Training; and ·                IT Boot Camps for Desktop Support and Windows Expertise. Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans from any era are invited to apply to their choice of courses. Applications will be accepted starting August 17, 2015 – seats in the pilot cohort are limited; applicants are encouraged to apply early. ALPs do not involve use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill..  Students are able to participate in these programs while also pursuing other programs of study using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Visit the ALP website to learn more about each program and apply. VA is also launching Learning Hubs in 27 cities across the country this year in partnership with the American Red Cross, The Mission Continues and Coursera, an online education platform. Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans can take advantage of both online and in-person study. Each week, online course modules will be completed outside the classroom while class sessions, led by Learning Hub facilitators, provide opportunities to discuss course materials with peers, hear from subject matter experts, and network. Upon completion of the program, Servicemembers and Veterans may elect to receive one free verified certificate issued by Coursera.   For more information about the VECI or to learn more about VA ALPs and Learning Hubs, contact VeteranEmployment.vbaco@va.gov.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs a massive system of hospitals and clinics that cared for 5.8 million veterans last year, is doing less, not more, to identify what went wrong during adverse events to make sure it doesn not happen again. A report out late Friday from the Government Accountability Office found that the number of investigations of adverse events — the formal term for medical errors —  plunged 18 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014. The National Center for Patient Safety, the office in the Veterans Health Administration responsible for monitoring investigations of medical errors, "has limited awareness of what hospitals are doing to address the root causes of adverse events, " the report concluded.  The examinations shrank just as medical errors grew 7 percent over these years, a jump that roughly coincided with 14 percent growth in the number of veterans getting medical care through VA's system. A report out late Friday from the Government Accountability Office found that the number of investigations of adverse events — the formal term for medical errors — plunged 18 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014. Source: USA Today (see summary then full story link below) Click here for full story from USA Today
  Veteran entrepreneurs face the same challenges as all business owners in the U.S., however, veterans are often very suitable business owners, sometimes more so than the average American. Veterans have been taught specific skills and have been put through a wide variety of situations in which they must prove their loyalty, physical ability, and endurance. All of these are great qualities to posses as a business owner, not to mention the most important, self discipline.  Veterans may get a little financial assistance from a change within the GI Bill. Introduced by Senator Jerry Moran, the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2015 advanced through it\'s original committee and was introduced to the U.S. Senate by a unanimous vote. This change would allow veterans to use their GI Bill to start a business. The aim is to improve the U.S. economy through new business creation and job growth.  \"Veterans in Kansas, as well as across the country, face challenges when they separate from the military and transition into civilian life,\" said Sen. Moran in a press release. \"After serving our nation, many veterans want to contribute their service by giving back to their communities as small business owners and entrepreneurs. It\'s common sense to give them more flexibility and choice in their benefits to achieve their goals.\"  Presently the GI Bill assists veterans in continuing their education, this will open doors for veterans who posses great skills and ideas to bring to their community and allow them to do it in less time. 
WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and Student Veterans of America (SVA) are seeking student veteran candidates to participate in the 2016 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program. The fellowship will once again offer 10 selected student veterans the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with their legislators next spring as part of the VFW National Legislative Conference, as well as additional academic opportunities for fellows to substantively address veterans’ issues in their communities. Student veterans interested in applying for the 2016 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship must complete an application package that includes an essay proposal on one of four specific legislative issues. The proposal should include a discussion of why the issue is important to the veterans’ community, and how the fellowship candidate plans to address the issue through community-based advocacy. Selected fellows will then be flown to Washington, D.C., to storm Capitol Hill alongside fellow veterans’ advocates as part of the 2016 VFW Legislative Conference, Feb. 28-March 3.   “The VFW is the nation’s strongest veterans’ advocate, which is a legacy we are looking to extend to a new generation of student veteran leaders,” said VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr., a retired high school history teacher who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh after serving in the Army from 1967-1970. “These annual fellowships provide 10 hard-charging student veterans the opportunity to share their passions and concerns on veterans’ issues directly with our nation’s lawmakers, which will help make a difference not only for their generation but for those who will follow.” "SVA recognizes the assets and potential that student veterans bring to the table at all levels of the policy discussion,” said Will Hubbard, SVA Vice President of Government Affairs. “We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the VFW, with the focus of informing members of Congress on the major successes and opportunities for student veterans, while demonstrating the value and return on investment of the G.I. Bill.”   VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship opportunities are open to currently-enrolled student veterans at colleges and universities with active SVA chapters. Candidates must also satisfy VFW membership criteria, which can be found here. For the application essay proposal, applicants must select one of the following veterans’ issues to write about:   The effects of budget sequestration on military and veteran programs; Challenges in the transition from military to civilian life; Fostering veteran success in higher education; or Access and accountability in delivering veterans’ health care.    All applications must be submitted by close-of-business Oct. 30, 2015. Selected fellows will be notified before Thanksgiving, with a formal announcement of the fellowship class at the SVA National Conference in Orlando, Fla. For full details about the fellowship and to apply, visit: www.vfw.org/StudentFellowship.     The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is another example of the strong collaboration between VFW and SVA that resulted from a memorandum of understanding signed by the two organizations at the SVA National Conference in January 2013. To date, the collaboration has resulted in a variety of initiatives such ascommissioning VFW Student Veteran Liaisons in every state, establishing the 1 Student Veteran education benefits assistance program, and successfully pushing for in-state tuition for veterans via the 2013 #InState4Vets campaign.   -vfw-     ABOUT THE VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans organization. With more than 1.7 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in more than 6,800 Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.” The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org. About Student Veterans of America: SVA is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit coalition of 1,200-plus student veteran organizations representing 440,000 veterans in higher education. SVA's mission is to provide military veterans with the resources, support and advocacy to ease veteran and active military students' transition into higher education and leverage military experience to launch successful careers in high-demand fields. For more information, visit us at www.studentveterans.org and follow us on Twitter @studentvets.
Veteran ID cards can be quite a headache for most veterans, mostly because until recently they did not exist. President Barack Obama signed the bill from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan that will allow veterans across the country to get a special, government issued identification card.  In the past veterans have had no easy means for proving their military status without providing documents that risk their identity and leaving them more exposed for identity theft. The veteran ID card will allow veterans to provide proof of their military status without exposing personal information like social security numbers, military service records, etc. The bill moved quickly through the House by a vote of 402-0 and the Senate by unanimous consent. The administration was not thrilled by the bill, an administration official said that veterans can get their status noted on ID cards issued by their state governments. But a new card issued by the VA could create confusion.  "Every veteran - past, present, and future - will now be able to prove their military service without the added risk of identity theft," Buchanan said in a statement. "It's the least we can do for the brave men and women in uniform who put it all on the line for us."  
Six years ago our country set out to end veteran homeless across our Nation. State to State the Joining Forces initiative began and local communities began to embrace homeless veterans by organizing resources for homes, apartments, and even some communities made micro homes through out their town for homeless residents, including homeless veterans. Today veteran homelessness is down 33 percent.  "In 2009, the Administration set an ambitious plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. We have made substantial progress toward this goal - as of January 2014, overall veteran homelessness is down 33 percent since 2010, and we have achieved a 42 percent decrease in unsheltered veteran homelessness." said First Lady Michelle Obama, in support of the Joining Forces initiative, addresses the 2014 National Conference on Ending Homelessness, in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2014.  "Through unprecidented partnerships with federal and local partners, we have greatly increased access to permanent housing, a full range of health care including primary care, specialty care and mental health care; employment; and benefits for homeless and at risk for homeless veterans and their families. As a result of these investments, in fiscal year 2013 alone, VA provided services to more than 240,000 homeless or at-risk veterans in Veterans Health Administration's homeless programs." she added. This initiative, launched by the First Lady, has involved over 250 mayors, governors, and county executives not to mention volunteers across the Nation and HUD funding. There is still a lot of work to do, however, the inititative has so far been successful.    *Official White House Photo Featured Above by Chuck Kennedy Author: Amanda McCuen/veteransview.com

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