State Level Veterans Affairs Departments Work Hand-in-Hand With VA

State Veterans Affairs agencies are second only to the federal Veterans Affairs in providing benefits and services to veterans and their families.  The state departments, while independent of the federal VA, are key partners in the mission to fulfill the promise of Abraham Lincoln: to care for those “who shall have borne the battle.”  State agencies primarily assist vets with accessing and applying for federal VA care and benefits. In addition to connecting vets to federal resources, each state government offers additional benefits or services to their …

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VA Secretary Backs Expanding Caregiver Program to Older Vets

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin supports expanding VA caregiver benefits to families of veterans of all eras. In testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Shulkin said he believes the current restrictions on the caregiver program — which limit many benefits solely to families of post-9/11 veterans — need to be updated.  VA officials have begun a review of the costs and procedures for expanding the program, and will approach lawmakers with a plan.

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President Trump Meets With Veteran Leaders and Promises VA Reforms

President Trump held his first face-to-face meeting with representatives from prominent veterans groups on Friday, a step that community advocates called a productive and critical step in advancing the White House’s promises to veterans. The hour-long meeting with Vice President Pence, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin and senior White House staff covered issues including medical care access for veterans, accountability for VA employees, veterans caregiver programs and the President’s pledges to make veterans services more efficient.

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VA Finalizes Disability Benefits Plans for Camp Lejeune Contaminant Exposure

Former service members exposed to contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune over a 35-year period can now apply for veterans disability benefits under new Veterans Affairs’ (VA) regulations.   Diseases covered include multiple myeloma.  VA officials will accept applications from any service member who spent at least 30 cumulative days at the base, whether that service was on active-duty, reserve or National Guard status.  Veterans have a year to file the benefits claims, and if approved will receive payouts from their date of filing.

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Veteran Advocate Organizations Recommend a 10 Percent Boost in the VA Budget

Veterans Affairs (VA) needs a 10 percent boost in funding next year to meet the medical and program needs of the department, according to a coalition of outside advocates.  Budget recommendations for the VA compiled by researchers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America call for an $8 billion boost in the department’s budget next year to match the demand for veterans’ benefits and services.

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Lawmakers Want More Help for Vets Caught in Paperwork Mistakes

Lawmakers are asking Veterans Affairs to extend health care enrollment deadlines for more than 440,000 veterans who may have had their applications rejected because of coding errors made by the bureaucracy. They are asking VA Secretary Shulkin to extend deadlines for another year, to ensure the veterans will not have to restart the whole process.

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VA Secretary Seeks Choice Card Extension to Ensure Better Care Access for Vets

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin recently said  that the VA’s Choice Card program needs to be reauthorized to ensure better medical care access for vets. He also promised major changes are coming soon. The Choice Card program, enabling veterans to seek medical care outside the VA system, is set to expire this summer even though money for the program may still be available. Secretary Shulkin is urging lawmakers not to delay program extension.

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American Legion National Commander Addresses Joint Veterans Affairs Committee

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt recently testified before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees. Schmidt said that at one point quality was the prevailing problem at the VA, not access, and that all worked together to turn VA into what is now described by patients and most experts as ‘the best care anywhere.’  An unpredicted result in many areas, however, became the long line to get appointments.  Improving access to care is now the challenge, and “there is …

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VA is Denied a Stay on Paying for Veteran Emergency Care Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has rejected a motion from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that it be allowed to stop reimbursing hundreds of thousands of veterans for non-VA emergency care costs they have paid until higher courts rule on VA’s appeal.  The joint executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program said the court was right to reject VA’s request because its chances of winning on appeal are low, and more delay in paying claims would cause irreparable harm …

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VA Costs Could Balloon With ‘Choice’ Reform and New Agent Orange Ailments

VA Secretary David J. Shulkin announced that his priorities for improving services to veterans include expanding access to private sector health care. The administration wants Choice extended and expanded, as do some key congressional leaders, despite warnings from veteran service organizations that shifting too many patients and too much funding to private sector care could begin a slide toward full privatization of VA health care.

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