 What can veterans expect in 2019? According to officials, VA expects to:

Meet the June deadline to end the Choice Program as we know it and have the new community care program up and running. This means VA will be using new, simpler access standards for veterans to get care in thecommunity, including access to new walk-in services for urgent care using retail providers.
Certify a new caregiver IT tracking system to better manage the care and services delivered through VA. The secretary must notify Congress by October that he has certified the system and that it is in place before the current program of comprehensive caregiver support services can move forward and be expanded over the next two years to veterans of all eras.
Certify a new caregiver IT tracking system to better manage the care and services delivered through VA. The secretary must notify Congress by October that he has certified the system and that it is in place before the current program of comprehensive caregiver support services can move forward and be expanded over the next two years to veterans of all eras.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Blue Water Navy

On January 3, 2019, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member, Dr. Phil Roe (TN), introduced H.R. 203, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. On January 8, 2019, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, Mark Takano (CA), introduced H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

Nearly identical legislation was approved in the House last year by a vote of 382 to 0. Unfortunately, the legislation was not approved by the Senate so it must be approved again by the new 116th Congress.

Both bills would expand the presumptions for service connection related to exposure to herbicides containing dioxin, including Agent Orange, to veterans who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Veterans who served on ships in the waters off shore of Vietnam are arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits of the presumption of exposure, and thereby are ineligible for presumption of service connection for herbicide-related disabilities. These bills would correct that injustice.

DAV strongly supports H.R. 203 and H.R. 299 and both bills are in accord with DAV Resolution No. 033.

Please use the prepared electronic letter or draft your own to urge your Representative to support and cosponsor H.R. 203 and H.R. 299. As always, we appreciate your support for DAV and your grassroots activism in participating in DAV CAN. Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.

Take Action

Posted in News | Leave a comment

• Lawmakers worry none VA Private care program could be a ‘train wreck’:

Lawmakers from both parties cautioned the Veterans Affairs Department to tread carefully in enacting a law President Trump signed last year to give more veterans access to private sector health care, suggesting the current trajectory could sabotage the entire program.
VA is actively seeking to address potential pitfalls through its negotiations with potential contractors that will make up the “community care network,” Secretary Robert Wilkie told a joint, bicameral congressional committee on Wednesday. Criticisms came from an array of sources, most of whom voted to approve the MISSION Act last year.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a cosponsor of the Mission Act, said he has “grown increasingly concerned” about the law since it sailed through Congress last year. He accused VA of going down a “different road” than it was just six months ago with regard to its implementation. He suggested VA is now considering a complete outsourcing of certain procedures and appointments, as well as giving veterans carte blanche to pursue private care outside of VA based on “arbitrary” wait times or distance from a VA facility. One of the main tenets of the new law was to move away from such metrics for determining eligibility for outside care, Tester said.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

• 115th Congress – Veteran legislative summary:

Congress was able to send several bills to the president before it concluded the 115th Congress. These included:
• S. 2248, a miniature omnibus package, which improves programs for homelessness veterans, transition assistance, veteran-owned small businesses, student veterans, and also includes the SIT-REP Act, which would protect student veterans from penalties due to delayed GI Bill payments.
• S. 3777, Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act of 2018, which will require VA to set up a team to plan and schedule dates for when student veterans who were impacted by GI Bill payment problems will receive their corrected housing payments.
• S. 3661, which requires DOD to conduct a program to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of WWII and support programs sponsored by veterans organizations and local governments. • S. 2679, Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which enables veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

• Legislation (Veteran tax legislation – H.R.1 |-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Reform Issues):

For the final few months of 2018, Republican lawmakers have built and rebuilt legislation to expand or extend provisions and fix certain flaws in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 22, 2017. The marquee legislation was widely celebrated as a massive victory for businesses, investors, and taxpayers. But these attempts to tweak the law show there are some ongoing issues. The House, by way of House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), has now put forth three different versions of a tax extender and reform bill. With each new version comes a new cost estimate. According to Brady, the latest might cost $80 billion, 30 percent more than the original bill. There are a couple of items of interest at play affecting the military and veterans community during these talks
. • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which MOAA has been seeking to both extend and expand, could face some new restrictions thanks to an effort to extend the new Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT). WOTC is a valuable incentive for businesses to hire veterans
. • The legislation would change Thrift Savings Plan contribution caps for members of the Ready Reserve who already have maxed out their private retirement plan contributions. MOAA has been pushing for this change since the implementation of the blended retirement system, so all members of reserve components have an opportunity to take full advantage of their military retirement, regardless of other employment
• The bill, as currently written, also would clarify that veterans are to be considered eligible for the LowIncome Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). This HUD program gives state and local agencies authority to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

VA’s public health approach to suicide prevention focuses on high-risk individuals, emphasizes community-based engagement:

VA’s Suicide Prevention Program recently released this video explaining how the organization is leveraging a public health approach to prevent Veteran suicide.
“We often receive questions about what exactly the public health approach is,” said Wendy Lakso, deputy director, partnerships, VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “This video is designed to help answer that very question.”
The public health approach maintains the focus on high-risk individuals in health care settings while also emphasizing comprehensive, community-based engagement to identify and help individuals well before they may become at risk of harming themselves.
VA is a national leader in suicide prevention, but VA cannot confront the issue of suicide alone. Because many Veterans do not use VA services and benefits, VA must build effective networks of support, communication, and care across the communities where Veterans live and work every day.
“We are encouraging everyone to share this video with community partners, colleagues, peers, clinicians, families and friends,” Lakso said. “The better we communicate the importance of collaboration, the more lives we can save.”
This video is also available on YouTube here: https://youtube.com/watch

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Veterans Benefits and Transition Act:

On December 20, 2018 Congress passed the package of veterans bills late Wednesday, known as the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act. The legislation garnered bipartisan support in both chambers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law in coming days, though the White House declined to comment.
The Veterans Benefits and Transition Act stops schools from hitting students with late fees, dropped classes and other punishments as a result of unpaid school bills caused by processing delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs. If schools don’t agree to the new rules, they won’t be allowed to keep enrolling students using the Post- 9/11 GI Bill.
Additionally, military spouses can now elect to use the same residence as their active-duty spouse for state and local voting purposes, regardless of when or where they got married and whether they are currently living in that state because of military orders. Under previous law, a spouse had to meet the residency requirements of a state on his or her own merit for the purposes of voting.
Also as part of this bill, deceased spouses and dependents of honorably-serving active-duty troops can now be buried and receive headstones in VA national cemeteries through Sept. 30, 2024. Eligible dependents buried in tribal veterans cemeteries will also receive VA recognition, including by adding headstones to unmarked graves.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

After listening to veterans, VA put all its services on one website:

Wednesday, December 19,2018, night, the tech team at the Veterans Affairs Department launched their latest effort to improve the quality of services for former military personnel with the relaunch of VA.gov.
Not long after the U.S. Digital Service team at Veterans Affairs streamlined access to benefits information on Vets.gov, it became clear that the very existence of a separate site to host that information was a needless extra step for veterans.
In an effort to mold the experience of how veterans interact with VA services to be more in line with how those veterans would like it to work, the USDS team set about moving all those streamlined resources to a more central location. The revamped VA.gov is the new single point portal for any and all veterans services.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Blue Water Navy Legislation needs your help!!!

Congress is very close to finally passing Blue Water Navy legislation, but unless the Senate acts in the next two weeks, that effort will fail.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed legislation to finally provide full benefits to Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans by a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 382 to 0; however, the bill has been stalled in the Senate since June.  With just days remaining in the 115th Congress, we need to get the support of all Senators in order to pass this legislation now.

The best way to send this message is by making a quick phone call to your Senators offices and letting them know that you want the Senate to pass Blue Water Navy Veterans legislation this year.  Be sure to give them your name and address and ask that the Senator report back to you what actions they take.  If you don’t know who your Senators are, you can find a list of them here:www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or you can call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking to be connected to your Senator.

In addition, please take a minute to click the “Take Action” link below to send the prepared electronic letter to your Senators urging them to pass Blue Water Navy legislation and finally provide justice for thousands of deserving Vietnam veterans.

Thank you for continuing to support all of the men and women who served.

Take Action

Posted in News | Leave a comment

 New research could lead to disability benefits for Vietnam veterans with high blood pressure:

from an article by Leo Shane III
New research linking veterans’ high blood pressure with wartime exposure to chemical defoliants could dramatically expand federal disability benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era troops. The findings, from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, conclude that “sufficient evidence” exists linking hypertension and related illnesses in veterans to Agent Orange and other defoliants used in Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s.
They recommend adding the condition to the list of 14 presumptive diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, a group that includes Hodgkin’s Disease, prostate cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. That’s an upgrade from past research that showed a possible but not conclusive link between the toxic exposures and high blood pressure problems later in life.
If Veterans Affairs officials follow through with the recommendation, it could open up new or additional disability benefits to thousands of aging veterans who served in those areas and who are now struggling with heart problems.

Posted in News | Leave a comment