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Category: Veterans Disability Claims

New Legislation on Benefits for Toxic Chemical Exposure Through Burn Pits Introduced in the Senate

Monday, August 10, 2020

Just days after the House voted to pass their draft of the annual defense authorization bill, new legislation was introduced in the Senate by Thom Tillis, a Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee member. Inspired in part by water contamination issues at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which got thousands of veterans and their families sick, the legislation would serve to bolster the handling of cases of alleged toxic exposure. Historically, change in the manner in which toxic exposure is covered by the VA has been slow moving. Though there has been widespread knowledge of the problem at Camp […]

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Veterans Affairs Budget Bill Passes Advances in House But Faces Uncertainty in Senate and the White House

Monday, August 3, 2020

The largest budget spending package in history passed in the House of Representatives last Friday. The package’s success in the Senate faces an uncertain future and even worse odds if it comes across the desk of President Donald Trump. The pushback from the Senate and Trump will likely have to do with the language in the spending bill that directly blocks Trump from transferring funds to build a border wall. Additionally, certain provisions have been outlined for the renaming of military bases currently honoring confederate leaders. Both topics will likely be strongly opposed in the Senate in the coming weeks […]

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Amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act Targets Forever Chemicals

Monday, July 27, 2020

Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., heads a new amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that is designed to scale back the risks of exposure to toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS have been linked to several types of cancer and have contaminated at least 328 U.S. military installations according to the Environmental Working Group. The amendment proposed by Dingell would require the Environmental Protection Agency to list PFAS chemicals, including those found in firefighting foam that military bases use, as hazardous to get grants for cleanup. The EPA would also have to set up enforceable federal drinking water standards. […]

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VA Advocates Plead for Congress to Address Bad-paper Discharges that Keep Veterans From Critical Benefits

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Last week, Army veteran and advocate Kris Goldsmith told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that that failure of the VA to help veterans with bad-paper discharges is “deadly serious.” Bad-paper discharges refers to veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges and have as a result been denied access to critical benefits. Currently, there are nearly 500,000 veterans with bad-paper discharges, 125,000 of which, from the post-9/11 era. Out of these veterans, only 35,000 have applied for the VA to review their discharge status. Only 3,500 of these veterans, 0.07 percent, have been deemed eligible. Kris Goldsmith is one of these post-9/11 veterans that […]

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Sen. Chuck Schumer Pushing to Expand VA Benefits to More Agent Orange-linked Diseases

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sen. Chuck Schumer has claimed “broad bipartisan support” for his plan to extend Veterans Affairs disability benefits to more Agent Orange-linked diseases. On Tuesday, July 6th, he stated that he would be including the new coverage as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that is working its way through Congress. “We’re here to unveil a national plan. We’re about to win this fight,” Schumer said. “The plan … will expand the list of diseases, will provide relief for tens of thousands of veterans” nationwide.  Though fourteen illnesses related to the use of toxic herbicides in the Vietnam War […]

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Senator Tillis Pleads for Congressional Action To Protect Troops From Toxic Conditions

Thursday, July 2, 2020

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis spoke last week on the dangers of burn puts at military sites, specifically sites designed for the open-air combustion of waste. In a discussion with the Washington Post, Tillis advocated for further attention and support when it comes to veterans who have been exposed to toxic conditions. In a comparison to Vietnam, Tillis noted that it took decades to get support for those veterans, a problem that he says is unaffordable in the case of the more recent wars. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee himself, Tillis argued for the collaboration of […]

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Veterans Denied Benefits After Missing VA Exams Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday, June 29, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation in March, the VA was still instructing veterans to report to mandatory physical exams when in many cases, this would have put them at risk as the coronavirus crisis worsened in cities across the United States. It was not until April 3rd that the VA ordered in-person benefits exams be cancelled due to health risks because of the pandemic. At that time, the VA website stated that “We won’t deny a claim solely for failure to report for an exam at this time,” a claim that was not upheld in the months that […]

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New Reports of Gulf War Illnesses Persisting for 25 Years in Female Veterans

Friday, June 12, 2020

It has been approximately 29 years since the Gulf War concluded in February of 1991. The Journal of Women’s Health recently published a study noting the impact this has had on female veterans. According to the study, female combat veterans who were deployed during the conflict have nearly double the risk of reporting more than twenty symptoms when compared to female veterans that were not deployed. Returning troops from the Gulf War displayed a range of symptoms from headaches and fatigue to musculoskeletal pain and skin ailments according to Dr. Steven S Coughlin, interim chief of the Division of Epidemiology […]

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COVID–19 Pandemic Causes VA Benefits Backlog to Spike

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

In recent weeks, the VA has been seeing a spike in the backlog for initial claims by veterans amid the pandemic. Up until recently, the backlog had held steady even with the 100% telework posture of the Veterans Benefit Administration. Claims that officially count as backlogged are those that have yet to be addressed for 125 days or longer. After these claims held steady at 70,000, the number has recently crept over 100,000 claims according to data released last week. Prior to the pandemic, the steady state of claims represented a victory for those at the agency. Bill Oxford, national […]

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Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry Reaches Participation Milestone, Over 200,000 Members

Thursday, May 14, 2020

In June of 2014, a registry was established by the VA for those affected by toxic exposure. It allows for current and former service members to self-report toxic exposures and health concerns via an online questionnaire. The purpose is to provide a resource that can be used to help discuss health issues with doctors and providers. As of May 5th, more that 204,000 veterans and service members have signed up which is an extraordinary feat according to the VA. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said that “Concerns about the long-term effects of exposure to burn pits remain a priority. By joining […]

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