VETERAN’S NEWS From the Internet
Gathered by Bob Kinsler, SSG (ret), US Army, DAV, VFW Dept. of Oklahoma, Public Affairs Officer
In Reno, Trump signs bill to overhaul VA appeals process
RENO, Nev. — Under a bill President Donald Trump signed Wednesday, veterans will have more options to appeal denied claims for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits – a process that now leaves veterans waiting an average of five years.
Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization bill on stage at the 99th American Legion National Convention in Reno, Nev. The Legion was one of the groups that supported the overhaul.
During a speech before the signing, Trump touted the legislation as “historic.”
“Veterans will receive timely updates, and they will get decisions much more quickly in a fraction of the time,” Trump said.
The bill creates three paths for veterans to appeal their claims:
- Take their appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
- Request a higher-level VA adjudicator to decide the case.
- Appeal, with new information, to the same adjudicator who denied their claim.
- VA officials have said it would take them 18 months to establish the new system.
The bill also forces the VA be more transparent with veterans about the status of their appeals. Some veterans have criticized the VA for going years without giving them an update.
This legislation does not address the current backlog, of which VA has some 340,000 appeals for benefits, 83,000 have been in the process for more than 125 days (some of them are from Veterans in this area one I know of has been waiting for more than 4 years).
The Veterans Administration Secretary David Shulkin stated next month he will bring out a new program “Decision-Ready-Claims” which will come with a promise to decide on appeals within 30 days.
Beginning Aug. 15, all VA-enrolled veterans can begin receiving annual flu shots at their local Walgreens or Duane Reade pharmacies. While this immunization program is limited to just VA patients, Walgreens can provide flu shots to most VFW members and their families through other coverage programs, such as TRICARE, Medicare and most insurances.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — World War II veterans exposed to mustard gas by the military will find it easier to receive help under legislation President Donald Trump has signed into law.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Trump on Wednesday signed the legislation that Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, pushed through Congress. It requires the Veterans Affairs Department to reconsider disability benefits denied to those who claimed the testing caused health problems.
McCaskill has said the military tested the effects of mustard gas and the blister agent lewisite on about 60,000 veterans by the end of World War II. Her office estimates a couple hundred participants could still be alive, including 90-year-old Missouri resident Arla Harrell, for whom the bill was named.
McCaskill says, “Every once in a while, Congress gets it right.”
On Saturday, President Trump signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017into law. The law provides funding for a shortfall to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Choice Program –– a community care program designed to provide access to health care for veterans facing long wait times or travel far distances for their health care appointments. The program, which was scheduled to end in August 2017, has been extended for an additional six months. The new law also improves hiring authorities for VA and authorizes the department to enter into 28 new leases for medical clinics and research. The VFW worked with Congress and other veterans’ organizations to ensure the passage of this important bill and applauds its enactment into law.
This week VA announced the two-month pilot phase for the White House VA Hotline demonstrated that veterans calling the hotline prefer to talk to fellow veterans about their issues. As a result, VA announced it will hire mostly veterans to staff the call center instead of a third-party vendor, and is hiring additional VA personnel to complete the planned move to a 24-hour operation. The decision will delay the move to a 24-hour service by two months, which is no later than October 15. Until that time, the hotline’s current pilot program service is available to receive calls from veterans from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday. The phone number is 855-948-2311.
Last week I gave the VFW Post 3658, Antlers, OK post commander a list of what the NEW GI Bill for Education includes, along with some further comments on what those items include (along with eligibility) I also sent these to the other District Four VFW Post Commanders. (and the Paris, TX VFW Post Commander).
So, if you want to find out what Is in the 2017 New GI Bill contains, go to the local VFW and asked the commander to see the listing (five pages long)..
Starting September 7, Lisa Mussett from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, Claims and Benefits Representative will be in the Antlers’ City Annex from 8:30 am to 4:00 PM (ALL DAY). (out for lunch around noon, if possible).