VA Secretary Assesses Challenges and Progress

VA Secretary Robert McDonald visited The American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis on July 23. During an interview, McDonald spoke about the challenges VA faces, and its progress in technology and patient care.

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New Military Health System Innovation Chief

The new Military Health System (MHS) Innovation Chief looks to accelerate progress in health and readiness. Dr. Steve Steffensen sees major change in how health care must be delivered in the future. He emphasizes that the scope of innovation in the MHS includes the combat, community and global health space. It’s a broad perspective that he believes is necessary to remain relevant to those the system cares for.

Read More: http://1.usa.gov/1Ku8tVy

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Optimistic Congress Will Plug VA Budget Gap

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Thursday he’s confident that Congress will act soon to address a looming budget crisis that could force his agency to shut down some VA hospitals, freeze hiring and take other belt-tightening steps.

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Vietnam Veterans of America: Toxic Exposure Research Act Summary

The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 and supportive rationale is detailed in this brief summary by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). The Act currently has the bi-partisan support of 52 Congressional Representatives and 10 Senators.

See the Senate and House versions of the bill at http://1.usa.gov/1DkRLjt AND http://1.usa.gov/1DkRXzh

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Ten Things to Know About the Veterans Choice Program

The Veterans Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.

Check out this VA webpage to learn more about the program: http://1.usa.gov/1InRR1n

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VA Choice Patients Double in Number Since April

The number of appointments made and authorized under the Veterans Choice program has more than doubled in the past two months, according to Veterans Affairs officials. The increase can be attributed to a change in the program’s eligibility requirements. VA expanded eligibility in late April by changing the 40-mile requirement from a straight distance measure to actual driving distance from a VA medical facility. Veterans and advocacy groups have pushed for broader expansion of the program.

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Deadline to plug VA budget shortfall looms for Congress

Congress has about three weeks left to sort out a $3 billion hole in the Department of Veterans Affairs budget or else risk shutting down some VA operations.  Officials from the department and key congressional committees have said they’re confident a plan can be worked out before the end of July, preventing any disruption in services to veterans.

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VA Benefits for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

From the 1950s through the 1980s, people living or working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals. Veterans who served on active duty or family members who resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, may be eligible for VA health benefits through the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program for 15 conditions, including multiple myeloma.

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Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Exposed to Burn Pits

In 2013, Congress directed the VA to establish an open burn pit registry. Veterans can sign up on the registry and fill out a questionnaire about their health.  More than 40,000 veterans have signed up so far.

Read a recent article about veterans exposed to the burn pits and see the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry webpage:

http://bit.ly/1gmwb9k and http://1.usa.gov/1MkLxW1

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Veterans Administration MyHealtheVet website redesign underway

MyHealtheVet is poised to undergo a major redesign that will expand core features and further improve the way veterans access their personal health records and interact with healthcare providers. VA is looking to completely redesign the portal, improving core features, such as upgrading the ability for veterans to schedule VA appointments, adding dashboard views, and offering a more seamless customer experience across all platforms — desktop, mobile and in-facility kiosks.

Read More: http://bit.ly/1JQeSqV

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