VA Updates Disability Claims Application

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2014

 New Process Will Reduce Processing Times and Improve Quality

 The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is introducing a uniformed disability claims form to better serve Veterans, families and survivors. Standardizing the process by which Veterans file claims and initiate appeals will make it easier for Veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they are seeking from VA and provide information that is necessary to process their claims and appeals. The new forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits. The new regulations go into effect in late March 2015.

“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

In the past, a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a certain form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper which caused delays due to missing information.

By using standard forms for all disability claims, VA can more quickly and accurately identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This will allow VA to immediately move on to next steps in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process, which saves administrative processing time and speeds the delivery of earned benefits.  The existing process is also inconsistent with most, if not all, other government and non-government application processes, such as applying for social security, applying for a driver’s license, applying for a job or filing for an income tax refund.

“These days, government agencies and private businesses rely on standard forms to deliver faster and more accurate customer service,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.  “VA’s ability to deliver better customer service requires the use of standard forms as well. That is why we worked extensively with our partners in the Veterans community to streamline the way we process claims while  preserving the effective date rules concerning informal claims through the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.”

The updated process also includes standardizing the traditional informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” process which affords the Veteran or survivor one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence to support the claim while preserving an effective date of claim.

More information about VA Forms 21-526EZ, 21-527EZ, 21-534EZ or VA Form 21-0958, Notice of Disagreement, may be found at www.ebenefits.va.gov or www.va.gov/vaforms/.

VA HIRING MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDERS- MANCHESTER VA HIRES 15

For Immediate Release

VA Hires Over 1,600 Mental Health Professionals to Meet Goal,

Expands Access to Care and Outreach Efforts

Manchester VAMC Hires 15 New Mental Health Professionals

 

Manchester, NH  – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has met the goal to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in President Obama’s August 31, 2012, Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families. Manchester VA Medical Center has hired 15 new mental health professionals toward this goal.

“I am proud of the hard work our staff has completed to bring these new staff members on board,” said Susan A. MacKenzie, PhD, Acting Medical Center Director. “We are not slowing our efforts however, and will continue to actively recruit for any vacant mental health positions for the future so Veterans will get the care they need. Not only have we hired new mental health professionals but the Manchester VAMC has specialty areas related to Mental Health, such as Veterans Justice Outreach, Homeless Veterans Outreach, Military Sexual Trauma, Women’s Wellness Group, just to name a few.”

As of May 31, 2013, VA has hired a total of 1,607 mental health clinical providers to meet the goal of 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in the Executive Order. Additionally, VA has hired 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.

“Meeting this hiring milestone significantly enhances our ability to improve access to care for those Veterans seeking mental health services and demonstrates our continued commitment to the health and well-being of the men and women who have served the Nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Meeting this goal is an important achievement, but we recognize that we must continue to increase access to the quality mental health care Veterans have earned and deserve.”

VA provides a full range of comprehensive mental health services across the country.  In Fiscal Year 2012, more than 1.3 million Veterans received specialized mental health care from VA.  This number has risen each year from 927,052 in Fiscal Year 2006. In addition to hiring more mental health professionals, VA is expanding the use of innovative technology to serve Veterans in rural or underserved areas. VA expects to increase the number of Veterans receiving care from tele-mental health services in fiscal year 2013, and has increased the number of Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and referral services from 233 in 2008 to 300 in 2012.

In November 2011, VA launched an award-winning, national public awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and informing Veterans, their families, friends, and members of their communities about VA resources.  More information on Make the Connection can be found at www.maketheconnection.net.

Mental health professionals interested in seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain information at www.vacareers.va.gov. Veterans and their families interested in learning more about the mental health services provided by VA can go to

www.mentalhealth.va.gov.

Without VA Lease Authority, Veterans To Be Denied Care

                                                                             

Without VA Lease Authority, Veterans To Be Denied             Care              

Take Action!

 

Please Contact Your Elected Officials Today!

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to open 38 new community outpatient clinics, in 22 states and territories, between now and 2017. These clinics will be in leased buildings,   with VA employees providing the services. This same arrangement has worked well in hundreds of existing VA clinics, nationwide. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an  independent arm of Congress, decided these lease contracts would  become long-term debts of the federal government. In considering  the first 15 leases, Congress, based on the new CBO     interpretation, forced VA to find funds for all 15 leases to cover an entire 20-year leasing period, rather than provide the money for only the first year. The authorizing law only requires the  first year to be funded, with future payments to be managed   through the annual VA budget. Because VA could not pay the entire           cost (between $1.2 and $1.5 billion) in the first year for 15 clinics, this new interpretation effectively stopped all VA proposed leases. This program, both new clinic leases and renewals  for existing leases, is now in jeopardy.

Without these clinics, VA will be denying care to veterans in  need, while making their health care more expensive overall. The cost to the government is far less than construction of major VA  hospitals. Without the ability to lease, from a practical point of  view the change in Congressional policy forces VA to buy land and  build government-owned clinics, or to do nothing. At a minimum this new requirement will add years to the existing planning  process, will delay or deny care for veterans, and is unacceptable to veterans who need VA health care.VA is managing almost 900 existing community-based outpatient  clinics, all established under the prior policy, and operating   under leases. Veterans who receive this care are highly satisfied. In our opinion this successful arrangement should not be abandoned at the expense of 340,000 or more veterans who would be denied               care.

Please use the prepared letter, or write your own letter, to   urge your two Senators and Member of the House of Representatives to solve this problem, to ensure veterans receive the care they earned and deserve. Recently, the Executive Directors of the major veterans service organizations sent a letter to Congressional               leaders expressing our concerns

HUD & VA TEAM UP TO PROVIDE PERMANENT HOMES TO 9,000 HOMELESS VETS

 

 

HUD-VASH vouchers to build on 17 percent decline in Veteran homelessness since 2009

 

WASHINGTON – Approximately 9,000 homeless Veterans living on the streets and in the nation’s shelter system will soon find a permanent place to call home.  U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide $60 million to local public housing agencies across the country to offer permanent supportive housing to homeless Veterans, many of whom are living with chronic disabling conditions.

 

The supportive housing assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, a total of 48,385 vouchers have been awarded and 42,557 formerly homeless Veterans are currently in homes because of HUD-VASH.

 

Donovan and Shinseki announced this additional support for homeless Veterans in an address to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans conference today in Washington.  Find out how much of this assistance will help homeless veterans in your area.

 

“It’s a national tragedy that those who served our Nation in uniform can end up living in our shelters or on our streets,” said Donovan. “Today we make another investment in meeting President Obama’s challenge that we end Veteran homelessness once and for all.”

“These HUD-VASH vouchers are a critical resource to accomplish our shared goal of ending Veterans’ homelessness in 2015,” Shinseki said. “With the continued support of President Obama, Congress, and our community partners, we will end homelessness among Veterans and provide these brave men and women with the earned care and benefits that help them live productive, meaningful lives.”

 

HUD-VASH is a critical part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness in 2015.  Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. HUD’s annual “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons and families for 2012 found that Veteran homelessness fell by 7.2 percent (or 4,876 people) since January 2011 and by 17.2 percent since January 2009.  On a single night in January 2012, 62,619 veterans were homeless.

 

The grants announced today are part of $75 million appropriated this year to support the housing needs of homeless veterans.  Local public housing authorities provide rental assistance to homeless Veterans while nearby VA Medical Centers (VAMC) offer supportive services and case management.  This is the first round of the 2013 HUD-VASH funding.  HUD expects to announce more HUD-VASH funding this summer.

 

VAMCs work closely with homeless Veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing.  The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

 

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  VA offers eligible homeless Veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.

 

VA Mandates Overtime to Increase Production of Compensation Claims Decisions

May 15, 2013

 

VA Mandates Overtime to Increase Production of Compensation Claims Decisions

Latest Initiative aimed at reducing the backlog

WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing effort to accelerate the elimination of the disability compensation claims backlog, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is announcing today that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices. This surge, which will be implemented through the end of fiscal year 2013, will be used to help eliminate the backlog with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

“VA is dedicated to providing Veterans with the care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “This increased overtime initiative will provide more Veterans with decisions on their claims and will help us achieve our goal of eliminating the claims backlog.”

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to reduce the backlog. Last month, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer.   On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for Veterans who have been waiting the longest, by providing provisional decisions that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly.  With a provisional decision, a Veteran has a year to submit additional information to support a claim before the decision becomes final.  More information can be found here.

“We’re committed to getting Veterans decisions on their claims as quickly and accurately as possible,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “We need to surge our resources now to help those who have waited the longest and end the backlog.”

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). On average, Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in 2 months following their separation from service.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov.

More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/transformation/fastclaims/.

 

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

November 2, 2012

 

In This Issue:

1. Protecting Our House from Military Quality-of-Life Cuts

2. Election Just Days Away

3. VFW Fires Back Against False Drop-Out Report on Student-Veterans

4. VA Facilities Closed from Aftermath of Sandy

5. VFW Co-Hosts Wounded Warrior Dinner

6. New Military Family Survey Begins

7. JPAC Welcomes New Commander

8. Two MIAs Identified

 

1. Protecting Our House from Military Quality-of-Life Cuts: This week, the progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress, published a report once again recommending cuts to military pay increases and retiree health care as a way to save money after mortgaging more than a decade of war. The VFW will continue to advocate against these kinds of proposals and adamantly opposes any cuts to military quality-of-life benefits; particularly while our military men and women continue to serve in harm’s way.  Last year, the VFW was the first major veterans’ organization to call attention to drastic proposed cuts to military quality-of-life programs through our “10 for 10” campaign. We have also addressed military budget cuts in our talking paper on budget sequestration.  We recognize that our nation must make difficult budget decisions in the coming months, but balancing the budget on the backs of disabled veterans, those in uniform, their families, and military retirees is not a solution.  Please join us in letting those in Washington know that the VFW will not tolerate any plan that requires those who serve and sacrifice the most to do even more.

To learn how you can make your voice heard in Washington, click here: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/?style=D&

To read the report and VFW’s full analysis on our Capitol Hill blog, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/11/here-we-go-again-protecting-our-house.html

 

2. Election Just Days Away:  The 2012 Election is just days away.  VFW encourages all members and veterans’ advocates to get out and vote. Help your members who may need transportation to the polls by arranging car pools and local pick-ups in your area. Remember to check our website to see how your members voted on critical veterans issues when they reached the floor of the House and Senate. Before heading to the voting booth, take a look at what your members have done to improve the lives of veterans, our active duty and their families. To view our vote analysis, visit the VFW website at http://www.vfw.org/VFW-in-DC/ and use the Connect to Congress box on bottom right.

As always, if you have a unique program that helps veterans get out to vote this election day, please share your stories with us for the Capitol Hill blog, www.thevfw.blogspot.com. To share your stories, either fill out our online form by clicking here, http://www.vfw.org/Forms/Capitol-Hill-Blog-Submissions/, or simply email photos and stories directly to vfwac@vfw.org.

 

3. VFW Fires Back Against False Drop-Out Report on Student-Veterans: Last week the Huffington Post reported that nearly 88 percent of veterans going to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill drop out. After reading the story, the veterans’ community balked at the baseless allegation and started firing back. To the VFW, this latest story of abysmal student-veteran performance is a disservice to the nearly 850,000 veterans currently enrolled in school through the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, especially since nobody in higher education or VA currently tracks student-veteran drop-outs or completions. The VFW believes that we have an obligation to today’s veterans to ensure they have access to the quality education we promised them, and has been working diligently over the last four years to improve and protect the benefit. To read the VFW’s full response to the erroneous story and to learn about ways the VFW is working to maintain the integrity of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, click here: http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2012/11/protecting-gi-bill-perception-is-reality.html

 

4. VA Facilities Closed from Aftermath of Sandy: The Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced several facilities closed due to the effects of Sandy in the Northeast and parts of West Virginia. Facilities with closures include:

  • VISN 2: Bath, NY (Mansfield CBOC)
  • VISN 3: Hudson Valley (Monticello & New City)
  • VISN 3: New Jersey (Outpt at Lyons and Newark; Hackensack, Hamilton, Jersey City, Morristown, Tinton Falls; East Orange plastic surgery)
  • VISN 3: New York Harbor (all open except Manhattan)
  • VISN 3: Northport (all clinics closed thru Friday, no DAV transportation)
  • VISN 4: Clarksburg (Tucker County CBOC)
  • VISN 4: Coatesville (No MRI Wed/Thurs)
  • VISN 4: Philadelphia (Ft. Dix closed; Gloucester limited phones)

For more information click on the facility link above or visit the VA website at:  http://www.va.gov/

 

5. VFW Co-Hosts Wounded Warrior Dinner: The VFW is joining the Aleethia Foundation to co-host a Wounded Warrior Dinner this evening at the National Press Club in Washington. What makes this dinner extra special is it will bring military personnel recuperating from their wounds at nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center together with 30 Marines who have moved on from their injuries to complete a USMC Wounded Warrior Cycling Camp at MCB Quantico. The VFW has been a strong supporter of these weekly wounded warrior dinners ever since they were created in October 2003 by fellow VFW member Hal Koster, who received the VFW Citizenship Award in 2007.

 

6. New Military Family Survey Begins: The 2013 Military Family Lifestyle Survey is now available online for veterans, service members and their families. The survey is open through December 3, and should take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete, depending on your responses. Go to the Blue Star Families website to participate at http://www.bluestarfam.org/Policy/Surveys/Survey_2013.

 

7. JPAC Welcomes New Commander: Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague assumed command of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command yesterday in change of command ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. He replaces Army Maj. Gen. Steve Tom, who will be retiring after serving our nation for 40 years, and who was able to address the 113th VFW National Convention in Nevada in July. Read more at http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/index.php?page=press_center&size=100&ind=0&fldr=PressImageArchive&file=2012-10-31_ChangeofCommand.

 

8. Two MIAs Identified: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to two soldiers who had been missing-in-action from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  Identified are:

  • Army Pfc. James C. Mullins, 20, of Dunham, Ky. On July 22, 1950, Mullins and his unit, H Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, were fighting enemy forces near Yugong-ni, South Korea. Mullins was declared missing after the battle.
  • Army Maj. James L. Whited, 42, of Norman, Okla. On Nov. 19, 1966, Whited was the co-pilot of an OV-1A Mohawk that crashed while conducting a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft, and heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.

Read more about their stories at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

VA Approves $28 Million in Grants for Homeless Veterans

 

September 19, 2012

WASHINGTON—The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has approved $28.4 million in grants to fund 38 projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia that will provide transitional housing to homeless Veterans.  Among these 38 projects, 31 will provide temporary housing to homeless Veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own.

“As we drive toward our goal to end homelessness among Veterans by 2015, VA continues to find innovative ways to permanently house Veterans who were formerly homeless,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we have made incredible strides in creating programs to aid these brave men and women who have served our Nation so well.”

Thirty-one of the grants were awarded through VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program’s (GPD) “Transition in Place” model.  The program allows Veterans the opportunity to take over payment of a lease instead of moving out after using VA services—substance use counseling, mental health services, job training and more. Other VA programs require Veterans living in transitional housing to move out after 24 months.  A list of the grant recipients can be found at:  http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/GPD.asp.

GPD helps close gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless Veterans, including women with children, Indian tribal populations, and Veterans with substance use and mental health issues.

Those receiving funding have undergone a rigorous review by teams of experts rating each application under objective criteria to ensure that those funded have the ability to provide the services described and a solid plan to get these Veterans into housing with a high probability of obtaining residential stability and independent living.

“Securing permanent housing is a vital step in the journey of our homeless Veterans,” said Dr. Susan Angell, executive director for VA’s Veterans Homeless Initiative. “This is the last piece of the puzzle, and it is crucial for them in continuing to lead independent lives.”

Community-based programs funded by GPD provide homeless Veterans with support services and housing. GPD grants are offered annually as funding is available by VA’s National Homeless Program.

Lisa Pape, national director of homeless programs for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which oversees GPD, said VHA’s focus is creating and strengthening community services around the country so that homeless Veterans get the support they need.

“Our focus is creating a team of community support—pairing a variety of services, such as mental health support, employment assistance and job training with the essential component of housing,” said Pape. “Whether it is aid in overcoming substance use or finding a job, a community helping hand is exactly what these Veterans need to lead a better quality of life.”

On a single night in 2011, a national count of homeless Veterans totaled 67,495, 12 percent lower than 76,000 in 2010. As part of Obama and Shinseki’s five-year plan to eliminate Veteran homelessness by 2015, VA has committed almost $1 billion to strengthen programs that prevent and treat the many issues that can lead to Veteran homelessness.

These awards follow closely with a notice VA published asking interested organizations to submit a nonbinding letter of intent to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program to apply for initial and renewal supportive services grants  by Sep. 28, 2012.  The SSVF Program in the first 10 months of operation has assisted more than 28,000 Veterans and their families to prevent or rapidly end homelessness.  Letters of intent have no impact on the opportunity for entities to apply when funding availability is announced.  These letters of intent will help VA gauge interest in the SSVF program as it seeks to make access to SSVF services available throughout the country.  VA anticipates announcing a Notice of Funding Availability in the new fiscal year.

Additional information can be obtained at:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/08/23/2012-20761/letter-of-intent-to-apply-for-funding-available-under-the-supportive-services-for-veteran-families#h-5

 

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY REVIEW AUGUST 31, 2012

VFW Washington Weekly
August 31, 2012

In this issue:

1. VFW Applauds White   House Effort to Combat Suicide
2. VFW Active at   Republican Convention
3. VA Increases Vets   Retraining Assistance Program
4. Combating Veterans’   Homelessness
5. VFW Hears from   Marine Corps Commandant
6. Army and NFL   Discuss TBI
7. Five MIAs Return   Home

1. VFW Applauds White House Effort to Combat Suicide: Today, the President signed   an executive order designed to curb military and veteran suicide and improve   the delivery of mental health resources to our nation’s heroes. The executive   order, “Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service   Members and Military Families,” which President Obama is scheduled to   announce during a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas, includes nearly a dozen   specific initiatives designed to improve mental health resources and   intervention tools. National Commander John E. Hamilton, noted the VFW   support for the president’s vision to prevent military suicides and improve   mental health care delivery, but also expressed concerns about potential   funding shortfalls to accomplish the president’s goals. Click here for the   VFW’s Press release: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2012-Articles/VFW-Applauds-White-House-Efforts-to-Stop-Military-Suicide/

2. VFW Active at   Republican Convention: VFW Representatives attending the   Republican National Convention (RNC) listened to key note speakers and spoke   with delegates on critical issues like veterans mental and behavioral health,   accurate claims processing and helping service members secure educational,   employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The VFW will also be   represented at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to   ensure the voice of veterans, service members and their families remains a   key priority during Campaign 2012. Leading both delegations will be VFW   Legislative Director Ray Kelley. Stay informed throughout by reading blog   postings at: www.vfwonthehill.org/

3. VA Increases Vets   Retraining Assistance Program: This week, VA announced that   have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings available under the   Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) passed as a part of the VOW to   Heroes Act. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012.   VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking   full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. VFW was   instrumental in getting the provision passed as a part of the comprehensive   jobs bill and encourages veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for   more information: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/

4. Combating Veterans’   Homelessness: Veterans’ homelessness is a national problem   that is best solved at the local level. As such, the VA recently launched a   new online ordering portal for communities and national partners to order   free informational material and promotional items ranging from brochures and   posters to wallet cards, drawstring bags and hygiene kits, among other items.   Share the portal link with your VFW members and Posts and with others in your   community to help spread the word. For more information or to place an order,   go to http://www.va.gov/homeless/materials_center.asp.

5. VFW Hears from   Marine Corps Commandant: This week, VFW attended a Press Club   event where Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke on a number of   issues important to the Corps. Leading the list was the continuing success of   combat operations in Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibilities over to   Afghan national security forces. Following his remarks, Amos fielded   questions from the audience on a variety of military quality-of-life and   force readiness issues ranging from fiscal responsibility and budget   constraints on the Marines Corps, to women serving in combat, suicide, and   sexual assault. When asked about potential across-the-board cuts to the   Defense budget, Amos said he believed the Marine Corps would be hit   disproportionately hard, considering the size of the force and the value it   delivers to the U.S. military. Amos also said that the greatest challenge for   the Corps moving forward would be ensuring the force remains balanced through   a period of fiscal austerity. To learn more about Amos’ remarks and to view   C-SPAN’s full coverage of the event, click here: http://www.vfwonthehill.org/2012/08/vfw-hears-from-marine-commandant.html?m=1

6. Army and NFL   Discuss TBI: Earlier this week, Army representatives hosted   NFL leaders at West Point to discuss how they can affect positive change   surrounding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and concussions. The military,   alongside the NFL have continued conversations regarding the Soldier-Athlete commitment   to education and awareness of these serious injuries. To watch the   discussion, click here: http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/2578#.UD5iiqCoz1l.

7. Five MIAs Return   Home: The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently   announced the identification of remains belonging to one airmen and four   soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and   Vietnam. Returned home are:
* Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Harry W. Eck, of Minot Ward, N.D. On Sept. 13,   1944, Eck and eight other crewmembers were aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress   that crashed near Neustaedt-on-the-Werra, Germany. Only one of the nine   crewmen is known to have successfully parachuted out of the aircraft before   in crashed.
* Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Block, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich. In late November 1950,   Block and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as “Task   Force Faith,” were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin   Reservoir in North Korea when they came under attack. On Dec. 3, Block and   many other Americans would be listed as missing in action as a result of the   heavy fighting.
* Army Sgt. 1st Class William T. Brown, 24, of La Habra, Calif.; Sgt. 1st   Class Donald M. Shue, 20, of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Gunther H.   Wald, 25, of Palisades Park, N.J. On Nov. 3, 1969, the men and six Vietnamese   soldiers were part of a Special Forces reconnaissance patrol that was   ambushed while operating in Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam-Laos border.
Read more about their recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/.

 
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VA BLUE BUTTON REACHES ONE MILLION REGISTERED PATIENTS

Blue Button Reaches One Million Registered Patients Cutting Edge Technology Expands to Empower More Patients   WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that, during the month of August, the one millionth patient has registered for Blue Button to access and download their Personal Health Record (PHR) information.   “Since President Obama announced the availability of Blue Button two years ago, VA has worked tirelessly with our sister agencies to make online access to personal health records convenient, reliable, and safe.  I am very pleased with our progress,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.    The Blue Button enables patients to assemble and download personal health information into a single, portable file that can be used inside a growing number of private health care electronic records–as well as those in the VA, Department of Defense, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and private sector partners.  The VA Blue Button PHR includes prescription history, the ability to review past appointments and medical history details, wellness reminders and emergency contact information. Because it is web-based, the information is available anywhere, any time.  Its security measures are identical to those employed by retail websites that accept credit cards.   “VA believes that patients are hungry for their health information,” said Peter Levin, VA’s Chief Technology Officer. “The simplicity of Blue Button makes it easy for other public agencies and Federal Employee Health Program carriers to participate.  Getting to one million registered users so quickly is a great validation for our team.”   The Blue Button will see even wider use as more non-profit organizations and health care industry partners, such as Kaiser Permanente and Aetna adopt it as an integral part of their customer health records.   One of the most recent Blue Button partners is UnitedHealth Group.   “We are just thrilled to see how Blue Button has expanded so quickly, both in the richness of its content as well as the number of institutions that have pledged to make their data available,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.  He went on to say that Blue Button has become the model of data liberation throughout the Federal Government.  “Data is the rocket fuel of job creation in the high tech sector.  Blue Button is just a terrific example of what people can do once we liberate their data – safely and privately – from our vaults.”   For more information on the Blue Button initiative, please visit:  http://www.va.gov/bluebutton/   # # #