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  • Obama signs defense bill, finalizing military retirement overhaul

    Type of content: News

    After an extra month wait, the annual defense authorization bill is finally law.

    President Obama signed the budget and policy bill on Wednesday, marking the 54th consecutive year the measure has survived Washington political fights to become law.

    The most significant result for troops is the renewal of dozens of specialty pay and bonus authorities, and a massive overhaul of the military retirement system.

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    DoD
    Legislation
  • Montana selected for VA pilot program

    Type of content: News

    Montana has been selected to conduct a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that is intended to speed the processing of veterans’ claims for benefits.

    Digits to Digits or D2D, allow selected veterans service organizations to submit electronic claims directly to the VA.

    In Montana, the Montana Veterans Affairs Division will be able to submit veteran benefit claims directly into the VA’s claims processing system, according to a release from the Montana Military Affairs Division.

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    Benefits
    VA
  • Survey: Military-family uncertainty on the rise

    Type of content: News

    Uncertainty about a variety of issues is on the rise among military families, according to the latest Blue Star Families Lifestyle Survey.

    For the first time this year, the survey included post-service employment on the list of topics of potential concern — and it placed in the top five among both active-duty and veteran respondents.

    There’s a theme of  “eyes on the exits,” said Cristin Orr Shiffer, deputy director of research and policy for the nonprofit Blue Star Families.

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    Benefits
    DoD
    Family
    Financial Assistance
    Transition
  • Policy guide doubles as veterans playbook for campaigns

    Type of content: News

    When staffers from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America meet with presidential campaigns later today, they won't just be urging them to talk about veterans issues. They'll also hand them a playbook on how to do it.

    The advocacy group released its latest policy agenda this week, a 71-page document detailing the top priorities of its membership, including calls for better mental health care, more resources for female veterans and improved accountability for Department of Veterans Affairs employees.

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    Homelessness
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    Mental Health
    VA
    Women Veterans
  • VA Launching New Customer-Oriented Website on Veterans Day

    Type of content: News

    The Veterans Affairs Department will be going live with a new website on November 11 -- Veterans Day -- one intended as a quick stop for veterans wanting information or to apply for benefits and services.

    "Vets.gov" will not replace "va.gov," the VA’s main site, but will consolidate information pages and online applications for a range of programs, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Danny Pummill said Tuesday during a veterans' summit sponsored by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and DefenseOne.

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    VA
  • Veterans discharged for misconduct have higher risk of homelessness

    Type of content: News

    (Reuters Health) - U.S. veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who were discharged due to misconduct are more likely to be homeless than other returning vets, according to a new study.

    “The most significant finding was that 26 percent of veterans who were separated for misconduct-related reasons were homeless at their first VA encounter; and this number climbed to 28 percent within one year after their first VA encounter,” said lead author Dr. Adi V. Gundlapalli of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System.

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    Benefits
    DoD
    Homelessness
    VA
  • Backlog of veterans claims dips below 100,000 cases

    Type of content: News

    The number of backlogged veterans disability claims fell under 100,000 cases this weekend, a figure that officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs are hailing as proof that years of effort into modernizing their systems are paying dividends.

    But VA officials Monday also indicated that they may never fully eliminate that backlog because doing so could unnecessarily rush some veterans' claims through the system.

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    Benefits
    VA
  • VA will extend benefits to all same-sex couples

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday that same-sex couples in states across the country will now have access to a raft of denied benefits following the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision.

    The couples will no longer be denied VA disability pay, home loan guarantees, death pensions and burial rights based on the laws of the states where they have lived and worked, the department announced.

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    VA
  • Coalition to Senate: Increase troop pay and benefits

    Type of content: News

    Military advocates are pleading with Senate lawmakers to undo planned pay and benefits cuts for troops next year, calling the moves "harmful" and "troubling."

    In a letter to Senators on Friday, 27 members of the Military Coalition pushed for the lawmakers to dump provisions in their annual budget drafts that would set the annual pay raise below civilian sector wage growth, trim housing allowance rates, raise pharmacy fees and cut the military commissary subsidy.

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    Benefits
    DoD
    Legislation
  • Tighten GI Bill transfer rules, senators say

    Type of content: News

    Congress may tighten rules for troops who want to share Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits with their family members.

    Tucked into the Senate version of the annual defense authorization bill is a provision that recommends defense officials review current policy in that area to ensure it "encourages the retention of individuals in the armed forces."

    The provision also states that service secretaries should "be more selective in permitting the transferability of unused education benefits" to family members, while stopping short of mandating specific new changes or regulations.

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    Benefits
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