 VA’s rule establishes a presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune

On January 13, 2017 the VA established the following:
The presumption of service connection applies to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
• adult leukemia
• aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
• bladder cancer
• kidney cancer
• liver cancer
• multiple myeloma
• non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Parkinson’s disease

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 Whether to expand the list of diseases that are presumed to be linked to Agent Orange.

In the past, the VA has found enough evidence to link 14 health conditions, including various cancers, to Agent Orange exposure. In March, a federal panel of scientific experts said there is now evidence to suggest that Agent Orange exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. It also confirmed, as previous experts have said, that there is some evidence of an association with hypertension, stroke and various neurological ailments similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Since then, a VA-led study has found stronger evidence to link hypertension, more
commonly known as high blood pressure, to Agent Orange exposure. But high blood pressure is common as people age, so compensating veterans for the condition could be expensive

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 Concurrent receipt status – CBO proposes elimination:

Congressional researchers say that eliminating the ability of nearly 600,000 military veterans to collect retirement pay and disability compensation simultaneously could save billions and contribute to deficit reduction. The Congressional Budget Office, a federal agency that provides lawmakers with budgetary and economic information, says doing so could save the government $139 billion between 2018 and 2026. The CBO’s report was published online 8 DEC as part of a series of options for reducing the federal deficit from 2017 and 2026. The practice is called “concurrent receipt.” By law, veterans are eligible to collect both sets of pay if they meet specific criteria. Vets who sustained career-ending combat injuries are eligible for combat-related special compensation, while those veterans who received a disability rating of 50 percent or more after at least 20 years of service are eligible for what is termed concurrent retirement and disability pay.
It remains to be seen how the next Congress and the incoming administration will respond to CBO’s recommendation. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to bring the U.S. debt to zero in eight years, although he also touts a massive — and potentially costly — military expansion

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 Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act

On December 16, 2016, H.R. 5015, the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 became Public Law No: 114-292. This new law provides veterans medically separated, or retired from the military due to combat-related injuries another opportunity to recoup the taxed portion of their severance payments.
The law requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify veterans medically separated from military service due to combat-related injuries that were issued severance payments after January 17, 1991, and withheld amounts for tax purposes.
DOD will provide this group of veterans with a notice of the amount of improperly withheld severance payments, and instructions for filing amended federal tax returns to recover the withheld amount. The period for filing this IRS claim for a credit, or refund is extended to one year after DOD provides the veteran with the information required by this Act.
This law will be a significant benefit to this group of injured and ill veterans, and partially fulfills DAV Resolution 011 that calls for allowing all veterans to recover taxes withheld from their disability severance pay.

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NSO Office Muskogee Switching to appointments, Feb 1st

As of February 1, 2017 the Muskogee DAV National Service Office will be seeing clients on an Appointment Basis.

Please contact us at 918-781-7764 or email us at dav.vbamus@va.gov to make an appointment.

Appointments will be scheduled from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm every day except Wednesday. Appointments on Wednesday will be from 8:00 am to 11:00 am.

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• VA National Cemeteries Now Offering Pre-need Eligibility Determinations:

The VA now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery. Interested individuals may submit VA Form 40-10007

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• Passage of Fairness for Veterans Act; Calls for Investigation into “Bad-paper” Discharges:

The Fairness for Veterans Act has the support of a bipartisan coalition, including many veterans elected to Congress. An important provision of the Fairness for Veterans Act was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. Once signed by the President, this provision of the NDAA would codify into law the 2014 “Hagel Memo,” issued by former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The Hagel Memo calls for the Boards for Corrections of Military Records to apply “liberal consideration” in favor of Vietnam veterans, contending that PTSD was a contributing factor in circumstances surrounding other-than-honorable discharges. While the Hagel Memo was interpreted narrowly by the military’s review board agencies, it did impact a handful of Vietnam veterans with PTSD. The Fairness for Veterans Act clarifies and strengthens the spirit of the Hagel Memo by applying it more broadly to Post-9/11 veterans with less-than-honorable discharges.

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• The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 Passes Senate; Awaits President’s Signature:

H..R. 6416 now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The bill contains legislation consistent with several of DAV’s national resolutions. Highlights of the measure include provisions to:
Benefits
Establish automatic entitlement to survivor benefit payments in certain cases;
Streamline the Board of Veterans Appeals video hearing process;
Enhance the Veterans Benefit Administration’s contract medical examination process;
Temporarily increase the number of judges presiding at Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims;
Require continuous review of the Transition Goals Plans and Success (GPS) program, its workshops, training methodology, delivery of services, collection and analysis of course critiques and VSO involvement;
Establish a three-year transition period for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses following the non-service-connected death of the service-disabled veteran owner, rated less than 100 percent;
Express a sense of Congress that October 5 be recognized annually as American Veteran Disabled for Life Day;
Health Care
Authorize advanced appropriations for VA’s Medical Community Care account;
Improve access to standard immunizations for veterans;
Provide priority services to Medal of Honor recipients within VA’s health care system;
Establish procedures for mental health treatment for veterans who performed classified missions while on active duty;
Provide examination and treatment by VA for emergency medical conditions and women in labor;
Authorize several major VHA medical facility projects;
Authorize research for descendant health conditions potentially related to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service in the Armed Forces;
Homeless
Expand the definition of “homeless veteran” to authorize access to VA services and benefits to this group of veterans;
Increase per diem payment rates for transitional housing assistance that later become permanent housing for homeless veterans;
Establish a program to improve retention of housing by formerly homeless veterans and veterans at risk of becoming homeless;
Establish a National Center on Homelessness among Veterans andRequire VA to assess comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans.

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• TRICARE & other health insurance (OHI):

TRICARE beneficiaries with other health insurance (OHI) must disclose their OHI coverage information. It’s important to make sure your OHI is reflected accurately in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). For all beneficiaries other than active duty service members, TRICARE is the last payer to all health care benefits and insurance plans, except for Medicaid, TRICARE supplements, the Indian Health Service and other programs and plans as identified by the Defense Health Agency. Overseas, OHI includes traveler’s insurance, study abroad insurance for students and overseas national health insurance programs. OHI applies to health care services received from civilian providers and at military hospitals and clinics.

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• Obama to sign Fairness for Veterans Act:

PTSD Legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is on its way to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The Fairness for Veterans Act helps veterans who may have been given an administrative discharge from the military, rather than an honorable discharge, due to behavior resulting from mental traumas — like post-traumatic stress disorder.
An administrative discharge is often given for minor misconduct, including being late to formation and missing appointments, behavior often seen in those experiencing PTSD.

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