The Veterans Affairs Department could soon provide free child care for veterans undergoing treatment for mental health and other medical issues — a move some lawmakers hope will make it easier for veterans to get help.
The House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that seeks to make permanent an existing pilot program rolled out in 2011. At the time, a VA survey found that more than 10 percent of veterans had to cancel or reschedule VA appointments because they lacked child care, and one-third said they were interested in child care services.
“We made a promise that our veterans will get the care they’ve earned,” Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., said in an email. “We can’t put insurmountable roadblocks in front of their ability to receive that care.”
The Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act calls for the VA to provide child care on site, pay veterans a stipend for the full cost of child care at licensed facilities, pay the facilities directly or collaborate with other agencies.
Many veterans know about the basic health care and education benefits available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs: Tricare and the GI Bill.¬¬¬ While these benefits alone are substantial, numerous other programs help provide more benefits to veterans and their families. Even within the health care and education programs are little-known benefits to improve the lives of veterans and help ease the financial burden of medical care or other expenses. Following are some veterans benefits you haven’t heard about that all veterans should see if they qualify for.
1. Long-term Care
Long-term care is expensive, but often necessary to provide care for aging relatives. Through the
Aid and Attendance program, many veterans are eligible to receive money to cover the cost of
nursing homes, assisted living programs and other long-term care options. With the ability for
couples to receive up to $25,020 a year, the Aid & Attendance benefit will help take care of a
significant portion of long-term care costs. Surviving spouses of veterans are also eligible to
receive up to $13,560 a year to cover their long-term care costs.
2 Caregiver Support
Should you choose to take care of an ailing Veteran at home, the Department of Veterans Affairs
offers a caregiver support program. While this program does not offer any monetary support to
caregivers, they are provided with a free support line and a caregiver support coordinator to help
navigate military benefits and the stress of care giving.
3 Free Tax Preparation
Veterans and their family have access to free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income
Tax Assistance offices on military bases. The individuals who work in the offices have expertise
working with the complicated nature of military-related tax issues.
4 VA Foreclosures
The VA maintains a list of homes serviced by VA loans that have gone into foreclosures. Veterans
have the ability to search the list of VA acquired properties and purchase homes at a discount. You
do not have to be a veteran to search the properties, but all properties qualify for VA financi
5 American Corporate Partners
American Corporate Partners connects veterans with top companies to help them obtain a job after
their time of service. Along with being connected to job opportunities, veterans have the
opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring and other career development serv
Approximately 700,000 men and women served in the Persian Gulf during Operations Deser Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s. A prominent condition affecting these Gulf War veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained symptoms that include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, various skin probloems, and memory impairment. These may be considered presumptives by the department of Veteran Affairs for those who served in either operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm. Million Veteran Program, a part of the VA, began mailing out surveys the beginning of December, 2018. The survey is designed to collect additional information from those who served in hope of identifying genes that contribute to, or protect against, developing Gulf War illness.
If you served in the Gulf War you may want to consider filing a claim if you have one of the aforementioned illnesses. I suggest you contact a service officer connected with either a veteran organization or one connected with the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs to get more information.
With 2018 now gone, and with it the 115th Congress, federal lawmakers left a lot on the table that would help veterans nationwide. One such bill would require the VA to provide dental care. The legislation, which was reintroduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) on 3 JAN, would require the VA to provide dental care to veterans in the same manner as any other medical service. Where it stands now, only veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent, those with a service-connected dental condition, former prisoners of war, and some homeless vets, are eligible to open up and say “Ahhh” for a VA dentist. The vast majority of veterans are stuck buying dental insurance in the private sector. The bill would also give the VA five years to build up the capacity to provide comprehensive dental care, such as hiring dental staff and building additional facilities. And it’s supported by the Coalition of Veterans Organizations who are sending letters to Congressional staffers to shore up support and hopefully gain some co-sponsors. “Dental care is not merely a matter of cosmetics, but rather, is an essential part of healthcare, as poor dental care is linked to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases,” the letter reads. “The cost of this care would be outweighed by the care that would not need to be provided for these other diseases.”
Recent legislation makes it possible for many disabled veterans to fly Space-A on military aircraft. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act allows veterans with a permanent and total service-connected Department of Veterans Affairs disability rating to travel space available on military aircraft. Veterans will be assigned a travel priority of Category 6, the lowest priority available, along with retirees and their dependents. Dependents of disabled veterans are not eligible for Space-A travel. Authorized disabled veterans can travel in the continental United States (CONUS) or directly between CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Disabled veterans must have a DD Form 2765, Defense Department ID Card (Tan), in order to fly Space-A.
Not all Space-A flights originate from military bases. Commercial airports such as Baltimore-Washington Marshall International and Seattle-Tacoma International also offer Space-A flights. Long gone are the days of having to show up in person at the passenger terminal to register for a flight. Now, Air Mobility Command, which runs the Space-A program, lets you register for flights via email, and all Space-A terminals have Facebook pages where you can see what flights are coming up and how many seats are available. Check out AMC’s page for details on how to find your local Space-A terminal and instructions on how to register for a flight at https://www.amc.af.mil/Home/AMC-TravelSite.
Currently, the VA’s Choice program — the best known and most used of the community care programs — is restricted to veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or face a wait of more than 30 days for VA services. The new programs will likely jettison those rules in favor of a looser set of guidelines, including language for veterans who face “an unusual or excessive burden” getting their care at VA facilities. Veterans groups have advocated for more flexibility for care options but also warned against abandoning the current Veterans Health Administration, a key safety net for millions of veterans across the country. A congressional hearing previewing the Mission Act implementation work was scheduled for early December but was postponed due to the death of former President George H.W. Bush. That has only added more mystery and urgency to the drafts under consideration by top VA officials.
Rep. Lou Correa thinks 2019 could finally be the year that medical cannabis becomes legal for veterans nationwide. “What do you tell a veteran who has brought back invisible scars and those opioids aren’t doing a darn thing for them?” the California Democrat said in a recent interview. “They say cannabis works for them. How do you argue against that? I don’t think there is a legitimate argument to oppose it.” Correa, who sits on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has been pushing legislation since last spring that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to research whether medical marijuana may be a safe and effective treatment for post-traumatic stress, chronic pain and other war wounds. He plans on re-introducing the measure early in the next Congress. The measure received strong Republican support in committee last year but stalled in the full House. Now, with Democrats taking control of the chamber, he sees an opportunity not just for an incremental legislative step forward, but passage into law. “I don’t see it as a partisan issue,” he said. “The bill last year had [committee] Chairman Phil Roe as a co-sponsor … Cannabis is one of those issues that more and more has taken a more bipartisan approach in recent years.” In fact, multiple Republican House members have pushed for broader authorities for VA to study and veterans to use the drug for medicinal purposes.
The CBO suggested that increasing Tricare enrollment fees for working-age retirees — those under age 65 — could help slash the deficit by $12.6 billion. To obtain this, it said, the Defense Department should more than double annual enrollment fees for individuals and families enrolled in Tricare Prime and institute annual fees of $485 for an individual and $970 for a family for Tricare Select. Most working-age retirees currently pay no enrollment fees for Tricare Select.
Another option would be to introduce minimum out-of-pocket requirements for those using Tricare for Life. In this proposal, TFL would not cover any of the $750 of cost-sharing payments under Medicare and would cover just 50 percent of the next nearly $7,000.
According to the CBO, the Department of Veterans Affairs also presents several opportunities for cost-savings measures. Some suggestions in the CBO assessment include:
1)Narrowing eligibility for disability compensation for seven diseases the Government
Accountability Office has said are not caused or aggravated by military service, including
arteriosclerotic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Crohn’s disease,
hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and uterine fibroids. This option would save
$33 billion over 10 years.
2)Ending the VA’s individual unemployability payments to disabled veterans when they turn 67, the
retirement age for receiving full Social Security benefits, which would save an estimated $48
3) Reducing disability benefits to veterans older than 67 who are receiving Social Security
payments. This could save the government $11 billion.
4)Eliminating disability compensation for 1.3 million veterans with disability rates below 30
percent, saving $38 billion over an eight-year period.
How many times have you heard the media state that there are XXnumber of veterans either in Congress or working as Congressional staff members? In an article by Leo Shange on January 10, 2019 fewer than 2 percent of congressional staffers have served in the military, despite years of warning from advocates about the need to include veterans’ perspective in policy work and pledges from lawmakers to help separating service members find work. The number of veterans elected to Congress this session dropped to under 100, the lowest level since before World War II. But that still equates to about 18 percent of legislators being veterans, far above the staffer levels.
Veterans are more likely to commit suicide than nonveterans and younger veterans are most at risk according to VA data. Veterans (and acitve military) who deployed to the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan have deployed more than 2 times and this may be 1 reason for the increase in suicides. Vietnam veterans have often said that being in combat creates “wounds that don’t bleed” and if a veteran talked about his/her experiences, most would never believe them.