Avalanche of Enacted TRICARE Changes Poses Challenges

The National Defense Authorization Act recently signed into law orders an avalanche of changes to the TRICARE health care benefit used by service members, retirees, and their families. It also makes sweeping reforms to how the military direct-care system is organized and operates. The authorization act contains “a remarkable series of provisions that set forth some challenges and provides us with new authorities that we’re greatly looking forward to” said the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

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Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017

In 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces an array of decisions related to the herbicide Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin and was used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.  The VA must decide whether to add new diseases to its list of conditions presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. It also faces calls to compensate naval veterans and veterans who served along the Korean demilitarized  zone .  Additionally, Congress passed a bill requiring VA to pay for analysis of …

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Twelve Health Resolutions for 2017

With the New Year, many people start thinking about things they would like to accomplish during the coming year. It is a time most of us think about changes we want or need to make. To help, the Veterans Affairs website has listed twelve resolutions for 2017 that may improve veterans’ health and promote wellness. In addition, there are also links to information and tools to help vets reach their goals.

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Nearly 100,000 Vets Enrolled in Burn Pit Registry

VA launched the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry in June 2014 to better understand the long-term health effects of exposure to burn pits and other airborne hazards during deployment. The number of new participants in this registry is climbing steadily, and will soon reach the milestone of 100,000 participants. As of December 9, 2016, the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry included 95,593 Veterans and Service members.  An estimated 3 million Veterans and Service members are eligible to join the registry.

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Ways for Veterans to Appeal Their Disability Status

The Department of Defense‘s Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) serves as a means for veterans to appeal their cases with the possibility of modifying their assigned rating or disability retirement status.  (Read more:  http://bit.ly/2iw0SuZ) .  If vets disagree with the decision Veterans Affairs (VA) made on their disability compensation claim, the first step is to formally tell VA that they  disagree.  Vets can seek assistance from their local Veterans Service Organization (VSO), sit down with a representative at their local VA office, or call …

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Coming TRICARE Changes That May Affect You

Some changes are coming over the next few years that will affect roughly 1.5 million retired military and survivor beneficiaries who get their health care under TRICARE Standard.  

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MyVA Initiative Reduces Claims Backlog by Nearly 90 Percent

In line with the MyVA initiative, the Veterans Administration is working to deliver faster, better, and more consistent claims decisions to Veterans.  The initial results are promising: The claims backlog is now down nearly 90 percent from a peak of more than 600,000. At the same time, VA is providing record numbers of benefits to Veterans. 

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The Potential Impact of Agent Orange on Children of Exposed Veterans

For decades, Vietnam veterans have suspected that their exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange harmed their children.  A new ProPublica analysis has found that the odds of having a child born with birth defects were more than a third higher for veterans exposed to Agent Orange than for those who weren’t.

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Department of Defense Unveils Redesigned National Resource Directory

The National Resource Directory (www.nrd.gov), a website that provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels, has unveiled an updated design and layout. The updates were implemented to make the site more user- friendly for the thousands of service members, veterans and family members who use the Directory each month.

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Gulf War Illnesses Presumptive Period Extended

The VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses found a mix of persistent health problems that have plagued veterans for years after their return from the conflict.  After several prior extensions, the presumptive period for considering an illness as being related to Gulf War exposure was slated to come to an end on December 31, 2016.  However, a change has been  published in the Federal Register extending the end date five years to December 31, 2021.

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