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Trump Promises VA Extension of Benefits Deadlines and Postponed Debt Collections

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to shape the day to day life of every American, one group in particular might be feeling the biggest impact, veterans. Veterans are some of the most vulnerable among U.S. citizens because of their age and underlying health conditions argued senators Jerry Moran and Jon Tester as they urged Robert Wilkie, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to extend deadlines for disability benefits and postpone debt collections. Veterans should not be leaving their homes to receive help with complex benefits paperwork argued the Senators during recommendations that all deadlines be delayed by 180 days. Fortunately for […]

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Competent Representation for Veterans Benefits Ended Abruptly By the VA

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

For decades, service representatives across the country such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been fighting for fair benefits for veterans. The Veterans of Foreign Wars employs over 300 representatives across the country that review benefits decisions for accuracy before the decisions are finalized and passed along to veterans. Last week, Paul Lawrence, the VA undersecretary of benefits, announced that these reviews would no longer happen, effective by the end of April. Understandably, the decision sparked a wave of protest by veterans’ representative groups. Ryan Gallucci, a director at the VFW’s office in Washington, stated that “this is a […]

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Solid Start Program for New Veterans

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The first year of transition out of service is perhaps the most important in the health of a veteran. Research has shown that the frequency of suicides is much greater within the first year of separation from the service. The Solid Start program aims to positively impact these veterans in this pivotal transitional period. With the Solid Start program, the VA is able to establish strong relationships with new veterans while promoting awareness of VA benefits, services, and other resources. The program entails personal outreach for each new veteran. Either a preliminary call or text will be made by a […]

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Delays in the Expansion of Veteran Caregiver Support

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

For months now, one of the major focuses of lawmakers has been the expansion of veteran caregiver benefits. Currently, only those families of troops injured after 9/11 are eligible for stipends which can sometimes add up to several thousand dollars a month. Last week, another step was taken towards expanding these benefits to those who served before 2001, but no date has been finalized for these changes to take place. Numerous veterans’ organizations have testified that the expansion of coverage and benefits to these caregivers is a top priority. Unfortunately, they have been met with several delays. Allegedly, big reasons […]

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President Trump Bumps VA Spending

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Last week, President Trump proposed a new budget plan that would significantly increase the VA’s budget and make it the second-largest federal agency when measured by discretionary spending. The proposed budget is $243 billion for the entire agency, which includes the Veterans Health Administration.  As one might expect, since the start of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the VA’s budget has steadily increased.  A $243 billon budget is almost double what it was 10 years ago. The budget most significantly impacts the mental health services, in which spending would be increased by 32 percent or $76 million. $313 million of […]

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TBIs: Still a Vastly Misunderstood Field

Thursday, February 20, 2020

In the past two decades, a growing prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injuries has established TBIs as the “signature wound” of the post-9/11 war. Upwards of 410,000 service members have been diagnosed with a TBI since 2000, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Yet, even with this remarkable number of instances in which TBIs have been diagnosed, doctors are still working out one concrete way to diagnose and treat this illness. The issue largely lies in the field of testing for TBIs. One of the biggest problems in diagnosing TBIs is ensuring that tests are sensitive enough to […]

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Department of Veterans Affairs Delay Decision to Include Four New Agent Orange-Related Conditions

Monday, February 10, 2020

The VA has disputed a scientific panel’s finding that illustrated significant evidence linking the development of bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s-like tremors, and hypertension to Agent Orange. The report came from several National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). The decision to dispute the findings in anticipation of further results from the VA’s own studies, is delaying what could be a $15.2 billion decision. Robert Wilkie, VA Secretary, said that VA experts “noted significant concerns and limitations” and did not identify any “definitive causal links” between Agent Orange and the diseases. Wilkie further pointed out that two of the conditions, […]

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The Mission Act Reforms Could Lead to More Long Wait Times for Care

Friday, February 7, 2020

In 2018, it was reported that Department of Veterans Affairs patients seeking private sector healthcare saw a nearly two-month delay for medical appointments. Now, according to a new report by the VA Office of Inspector General, the reforms to the Mission Act could worsen these delays. The VA Mission Act aims to greatly improve veteran access to VA healthcare. The legislation’s formal name is the VA Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act. Recent reforms were focused on giving veterans more healthcare options by establishing new criteria that determine a veteran’s eligibility to receive community care. The criteria includes […]

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Some Veterans Left Out of Blue Water Navy Veterans Act Coverage

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

In late 2019, a federal court ruled that the VA must begin to recognize veterans who served in the waterways in the areas surrounding Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange, known as the Blue Water Navy Veterans. The President and Congress solidified this ruling with the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. The act outlined that beginning on January 1st, 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs must begin processing disability claims for veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving about ships in the territorial seas of Vietnam. Though this is a big step in the right direction for veterans […]

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VA to Begin Processing Blue Water Navy Disability Claims on Jan. 1, 2020

Monday, December 16, 2019

A federal court ruling declined to lift a delay on Blue Water Navy disability claims imposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Claims processing is expected to begin January 1st, 2020. In total, the delay has affected over 400,000 veterans or surviving members who could be eligible. Agent Orange is a herbicide and defoliant chemical that is used as part of the U.S. Military’s chemical warfare program. It was used from 1962 to 1975 during the Vietnam War. Veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam, or who had service in the Korean Demilitarized […]

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