Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said his department's goal of cutting the number of homeless veterans to zero by next January is less important than making sure that number doesn't rise again in years to come. "The important thing is not just to get to zero, but to stay at zero," he said. "How do we build a system that is so capable, that as a homeless veteran moves from Chicago to Los Angeles in the winter, we have the ability to touch them immediately?" On Wednesday, McDonald addressed about 600 community organizers at the annual National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference, charging them to keep up the progress thus far as his department's self-imposed deadline approaches. From 2010 to 2013, the number of homeless veterans nationwide dropped more than one-third to about 50,000 individuals, and VA officials expect that number to dip even further when the 2014 estimates are released later this summer. Meanwhile, VA funding for homeless assistance and prevention programs has jumped from about $2.4 billion in fiscal 2008 to nearly $7 billion for fiscal 2016, providing resources that advocates say were nearly nonexistent a decade ago. Despite the positive trends, the effort to end veterans homelessness will need dramatic strides in coming months to come close to the lofty goal of zero veterans on the streets at the end of 2015.
Veterans can be proud of themselves on the 4th of July. Independence Day is partly due to the sacrifice they've given to create freedom. However, those who served in conflicts and wars have to deal with the loud explosion-like sounds that come from fireworks. According to Dr. Kathleen Chard, director of the Cincinnati VA Trauma Recovery Center and associate chief of staff for research, said veterans can prepare themselves. "One of the best things veterans can do is to tell themselves to expect loud noises at any time. It may also be helpful to plan errands for earlier in the day when fewer people are likely to be out setting off fireworks," she said. "If the veteran is very unsettled by fireworks, it might be a good idea to mention it to some of their neighbors, so they can plan to set off their fireworks at a set time or at someone else's house." The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 11% and 20% of veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan deal with PTSD. The VA says as many as 30% of Vietnam War veterans have PTSD in their lifetimes.
Five employees who work in the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System hospital in Oakland have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation into allegations that they harassed a fellow employee, the VA said today. The Pittsburgh VA employee told a supervisor on Thursday that fellow employees had been harassing him in his work area for the prior week, the VA said. To read the full story click here
The American Legion is planning a town hall meeting April 20 in Memphis to discuss the quality and timeliness of Department of Veterans Affairs health care and the delivery of benefits to local veterans. The Legion will also set up a Veterans Benefits Center to help veterans enroll in VA health care, schedule VA medical appointments, file VA disability or pension benefits claims, and get information on GI Bill education benefits. The town hall meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will be at American Legion Post 53 on 400 Legion Rd. in West Memphis, Ark. Local veterans, especially those currently receiving VA medical treatment, are encouraged to attend. The event is free and open to the public and members of other veterans service organizations. The Veterans Benefits Center will be at the Whitehaven Community Center on 4318 Graceland in Memphis, April 21-23. Operating hours are noon to 7 p.m. on the 21st, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the 22nd and 23rd. The American Legion is conducting town hall meetings and Veterans Benefits Centers across the country as part of its national program to improve VA health care and help veterans get the benefits they have earned through military service. To date, the Legion has helped veterans recover well over $1 million in retroactive benefits. - See more at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/226807/legion-reaching-out-vets-memphis-area#sthash.Fut70E8x.dpuf
VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA JOINS IN LAWSUIT AGAINST VA SECRETARY FOR VIOLATING RIGHTS OF DISABLED VETS
(WASHINGTON, DC) - “Vietnam Veterans of America has joined four other veterans service organizations as a co-plaintiff to The American Legion et. al. v. McDonald in an effort to stop the implementation of a new rule eliminating most informal VA claims and limiting the types of claims the VA will adjudicate,” announced John Rowan, VVA National President. “Informal claims account for approximately half of all claims the VA receives,” said Rowan. “The new rule, which went into effect March 25, eradicates the decades-old right of a veteran to write a letter to the VA, seeking a specific VA benefit and having the VA consider that letter as an informal claim. "The new rule also prevents the VA from considering claims that are supported by the evidence in the VA record but have not been specifically claimed by the veteran.” The new rule changes, which require claims to be submitted on the VA’s standardized forms, will impose barriers for all those without access to those forms, as well as those without the medical and legal knowledge needed to fill them out correctly. "While the VA has promoted this rule change as being more efficient and therefore favorable to the veteran, in fact, this rule change over-formalizes the veterans claims process, making it more adversarial than ever before. "We will not stand by silently as our government places further obstacles in front of our injured and disabled veterans and their families, undermining our nation’s pledge to care for those who have borne the battle and their families," said Rowan. Prior to March 25, under the informal VA claims system, any benefits awarded would be paid back to the date that the VA had received a notice from the veteran, signaling his or her intent to file. Under the new rule changes, however, the clock for an effective date for benefits starts only when a veteran files the standardized VA paperwork. The suit, which seeks to have the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new rule declared unlawful by the courts, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals on March 20 and was entered into the court’s docket on March 26. The other co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the American Legion, AMVETS, The Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program. Vietnam Veterans of America (www.vva.org) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs* of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”