Call you Senator Today 7/29/22 or NLT Monday Morning 8/1/22

As a reminder, the PACT Act will provide health care and presumptive benefits for veterans exposed to hazardous environments. After years of fighting, we are close to comprehensive toxic exposure legislation. We need your help again to keep the pressure on the Senate to get it passed. On June 16th, the Senate passed the Honoring Our PACT Act 84-14. Unfortunately, due to a procedural issue, the House returned it to the Senate. On June 24th, the Senate tried to pass the corrected version, however, that was blocked by one Senator. The House introduced the Senate version of the PACT Act and on July 13th they passed it out of the House with a vote of 342-88. The bill then went to the Senate. However, on Wednesday July 27th, the bill was stopped from going to the Senate floor. Twenty-five Senators who voted to pass the PACT Act on June 16th, voted on Wednesday to stop the bill. The PACT Act will be voted on again in the Senate on Monday. We need you to CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY. Tell them to vote “YES” for S. 3373, Honoring Our PACT Act. This bipartisan bill provides a truly comprehensive solution to toxic exposures and our fellow veterans and their families can’t afford to wait. Click the action button to get the phone numbers for your Senators and call them NOW. Please use the script we have provided. Once you have made your calls, please provide feedback. Thank you for your support of America’s service disabled veterans and their families.
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NEW Veteran Crisis Line

As of July 16, the Veterans Crisis Line has a new number: 988 then Press 1

Signed into law in 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorized 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As part of the law, all telephone service providers in the U.S. had to activate the number no later than July 16, 2022. The new number helps make it easier to remember and share with others to access help in times of need.

Veterans can use this new option by dialing 988 and pressing 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. Veterans may still reach the Veterans Crisis Line with the previous phone number—1-800-273-8255 and Press 1—by text (838255), and through chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat).

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COLA Act 2022

DAV Supports S. 4223 and H.R. 7846, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act of 2022. The Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act would increase compensation rates for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, including clothing allowance, and dependency and indemnity benefits paid to survivors and families of service members who died in the line of duty or suffer from a service-related injury or disease. These bills would increase compensation rates based on the same percentage that Social Security benefits are increased for 2023. If passed, these rates would be effective December 1, 2022, and most importantly, would be realized in compensation benefits paid on January 1, 2023. Consistent with DAV Resolution No. 070, we support S. 4223 and H.R. 7846. With inflation reaching a 40-year high, we must ensure that veterans’ benefits keep pace for the many veterans and survivors who are on fixed incomes and largely rely on their compensation payments.  Please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor and support S. 4223 and H.R. 7846. Thank you for standing with DAV to provide a cost-of-living increase for our nation’s service disabled veterans, their families and survivors.
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“Call to Arms”

On June 16, 2022, in a bipartisan vote of 84 -14, the Senate passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act. It is now up to the House to reconsider and pass this historic comprehensive toxic exposure legislation that will impact all generations of veterans. Over 60 veteran and military service organizations support the Honoring Our PACT Act. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Mike Bost both support this truly comprehensive measure and step forward in addressing the long lasting impact of toxic exposures. The House will be voting on the Honoring Our PACT Act this week. If the House votes to pass the Honoring the PACT Act, it will go to the President for signature. Please contact your Representative today, as our fellow veterans and their families cannot afford to wait. Thank you for your support of America’s service disabled veterans and their families.  
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Regional Office Under Construction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 16, 2022

Muskogee VA Regional Office Facility Renovation
In-Person Services Relocated to Annex Facility

Muskogee, OK — The Department of Veterans Affairs Muskogee Regional Office will undergo a major renovation of the facility at 125 S. Main Street in downtown Muskogee, OK. 

During the renovation, which is expected to last several months, in-person services will be relocated to the Annex facility, located at 122 East Side Boulevard, Muskogee, OK, beginning July 5th. This location is less than one mile east of the Muskogee Federal Building. 

To discuss benefits in-person, such as compensation for service-connected disabilities, pension, aid and attendance, and Veteran Readiness and Employment, visitors may access the Annex facility, which will be open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

For more information about VA benefits and eligibility or how to file a claim, Veterans and survivors can visit VA.gov or call toll-free at 800-827-1000.

Jacob Nichols, Public Affairs Officer, Jacob.Nichols@va.gov.

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9 New Cancers Added

On April 26, VA announced the addition of nine rare respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities due to exposure to fine particulate matter for Veterans who served any amount of time in

  • Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria or Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War, from September 19, 2001, to the present, or
  • The Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990, to the present.

VA is taking a new approach to making decisions on presumptives, one that takes all available science into account, with one goal in mind – getting today’s Veterans, and Vets in the decades ahead – the benefits they deserve, as fast as possible.

VA identified, through a focused review of scientific and medical evidence, a biological plausibility between airborne hazards, specifically particulate matter, and carcinogensis of the respiratory tract; the unique circumstances of these rare cancers warrant a presumption of service connection.

Veterans and survivors who had claims previously denied for any of the below respiratory cancers are encouraged to file a supplemental claim for benefits;

  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx;
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea;
  • Adenocarcinoma of the trachea;
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the trachea;
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma of the lung;
  • Large cell carcinoma of the lung;
  • Salivary gland-type tumors of the lung;
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung and;
  • Typical and atypical carcinoid of the lung.

VA will contact impacted Veterans and survivors to inform them about their eligibility and it will provide information on how to apply.

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Useful Tool

S. 3304/H.R. 5754, the Patient Advocate Tracker Act would require the Office of Patient Advocacy to either develop a new IT system or upgrade its existing one to allow patients, or their designated representatives, to electronically file complaints and view the status of those complaints.

VA’s current IT system allows all veterans’ interactions with patient advocates to be monitored, compiled and analyzed however, veterans lack access to the system. This legislation would require VA to develop the IT infrastructure to allow veterans to have direct access to file and track their complaints in the system.

DAV believes veterans have the right to a transparent process that adequately addresses their complaints and we are pleased to support this legislation. DAV Resolution No. 025 calls upon VA to establish equitable grievance processes and train staff to administer them.

We call on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor and support this legislation.

Thank you for supporting DAV as we fight for improvements in VA’s patient advocacy program. .Take Action!

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Long Term Care

On March 18, 2022, Rep. Clay Higgins introduced H.R. 7158, the Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act. This legislation would give VA the authority to place and pay for veterans who want to reside in a medical foster home. Veterans who have a service-connected disability rated at 70% or greater, or who need nursing home care due to a service-connected disability, would be able to request placement in a medical foster home certified and inspected by the VA.

Medical foster homes offer veterans long-term care in a more family- and community-oriented setting. These homes provide a long-term care alternative for veterans who want to have greater independence and remain closer to their families and communities than institutional care might provide. It also allows VA to meet the veterans’ needs for assistance with daily living when these needs are no longer able to be met safely at home.

Currently, while veterans eligible for nursing home care may elect to receive their care at medical foster homes VA does not cover the cost for such placement. Instead, these veterans must pay for this service out of pocket or through private insurance. H.R. 7158—the Long-Term care Veterans Choice Act would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover the cost of medical foster homes for veterans otherwise eligible for nursing home care through the VA.

As the number of veterans needing long-term care is expected to significantly increase over the next decade, it is important that VA implement policies that honor veterans’ preference to age at home or in their communities. DAV strongly supports this legislation, in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 022, which notes that VA lacks sufficient non-institutional long-term care alternatives, such as medical foster homes, and calls for VA to provide veterans access to a wider range of options for this unique type of care support.

We are calling on all DAV members and supporters to contact their Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 7158. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families. Take Action!

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Call to Action

On March 3, 2022, in a bipartisan vote, the House passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring our PACT Act. It is now up to the Senate to pass this historic comprehensive toxic exposure legislation that will impact all generations of veterans. Over 40 veteran and military service organizations support the Honoring Our PACT Act.

DAV testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on March 29, in support of this legislation that would:

  • Provide health care based on toxic exposures;
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related diseases;
  • Add hypertension as a presumptive disease associated with Agent Orange exposure;
  • Concede exposure to burn pits and toxic environments;
  • Provide a new framework for establishing presumptive diseases in the future;
  • Expand radiation-risk activities to include veterans who participated in radiation cleanup at Enewetak Atoll, Palomares, Spain and Thule, Greenland;
  • Include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll as conceded locations for Agent Orange exposure; and
  • Require registries for veterans who served at Ft. McClellan and for those exposed to PFAS chemicals.

The Senate will be voting on the Honoring Our PACT Act soon. Contact your Senators today and urge them to vote “YES” for the Honoring Our PACT Act. This bill provides a truly comprehensive solution to toxic exposures and our fellow veterans and their families can’t afford to wait.

Thank you for your support of America’s service disabled veterans and their families. Take Action!

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