National Public Radio series on veterans benefits

National Public Radio (NPR), along with seven public radio stations around the country, is chronicling the lives of America’s troops where they live.  The project is called “Back at Base”.  The first of a three-part series about veterans benefits is at this link:http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376134776/va-data-show-disparities-in-veteran-benefits-spending . On that webpage, you can click on the “Part 2″ and “Part 3″ links to see the other articles in the series.

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Veterans Service Organizations release annual priorities report

Four of the nation’s top Veterans Service Organizations have issued their annual list of priorities for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress. The list has been published annually for the past three decades. The document focuses on access, claims, infrastructure, caregiver support and women’s issues.

See the highlights of their priority list here: http://1.usa.gov/1AVOQya

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Law Expands Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Dates for Family Claims

A law signed December 16th expanded the eligibility for family members affected by the historic water contamination on Camp Lejeune, NC.  Under the amendment, family members who lived on Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, could be eligible for VA health benefits. The initial dates before the change were between Jan. 1, 1957, and Dec. 31, 1987.  Multiple myeloma is among the diseases listed.

Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1y4TDiE

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VA Claims Backlog Significantly Reduced in 2014; 2015 Goal a Challenge

The Veterans Affairs Department boasted another dramatic drop in its backlog of benefits claims in 2014, but will need an extra boost in coming months to meet its goal of zeroing out the payout delays by the end of 2015.  In recent remarks, new VA Secretary Bob McDonald has reaffirmed the promise to not only zero out the backlog, but improve the process to prevent future delays in processing claims.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1AgGQK5

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Hepatitis C Drug Costs the VA and DoD Millions

An expensive hepatitis C drug which was added to the VA formulary of approved drugs in April threatens the Veterans Affairs Department’s health budget.  The VA has taken a conservative approach to providing the treatment, reserving it for those with advanced liver disease or needing a transplant. The VA is the largest single provider of hepatitis C care in the U.S., with a high-risk population of Vietnam War veterans who may have contracted the disease through blood transfusions for battlefield injuries or the intravenous drug …

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Veterans Choice Program

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act is designed to improve health care for veterans. Many veterans will have the option to receive non-VA health care rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. Read more about the Veterans Choice Program at www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/.

Related:  An intensive new focus on health care for veterans, especially those who saw action, has led Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to develop a program it hopes will become a model for other schools and a …

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Commission to Issue Recommendations on Military Pay and Benefits

A congressionally appointed commission studying military pay and compensation is preparing to issue its recommendations.  The administration and Congress are looking to reduce the cost of military benefits amid Pentagon budget tightening.  Military advocacy groups oppose reducing benefits that have previously been promised.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1HXzuud and at:http://bit.ly/1FaJN26

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VA Videos on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The Veterans Administration’s National Center for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, released its first whiteboard animation video over the summer, using the innovative marketing technique to introduce a new audience to the signs of PTSD.  The video, titled “What is PTSD,” racked up nearly 85,000 YouTube views in its first five months, making it a big success for the VA team tasked with connecting sufferers of the syndrome with treatment options.

See more, including links to the video at:  http://bit.ly/1IgtD3v

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Successful Veterans Legislation In 2014

Veterans faced a series of nationwide issues related to their benefits and care in 2014, but that also brought an encouraging boost in attention and action from Capitol Hill.  Advocates from the veterans community saw two of their top legislative priorities approved: a new, bigger Veterans Affairs Department budget and advance appropriations for all VA benefits starting next fiscal year.  Additional successes included successfully stopping the plan to lower cost-of-living adjustments on military retirees.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1thKRGS

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Why was the VA Created 100 Years Ago?

Americans committed themselves to caring for veterans’ health through a publicly funded system about 100 years ago, when the federal government established the first iteration of what has evolved into the national veterans health-care system.  By most accounts, it made sense for the government to create and maintain a health-care system specializing in war- and service-related injuries: battle wounds, amputations, spinal-cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and mental-health problems now known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Read more about the history of the VA Health System over the …

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