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  • There's a Plan in Congress to Start Charging Troops For Their GI Bill Benefits

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — A congressional proposal to make service members buy into their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits surprised veterans groups on Tuesday, with advocates divided over whether it amounts to a long-term fix for the benefit or an unfair bill for veterans. 

    “This new tax on troops is absurd,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy in a statement. “Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war, and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops.

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    Benefits
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    Transition
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  • VA Halts Change to Caregiver Stipends, Pending a Full Program Review

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials on Monday announced they will not kick any more individuals out of the department’s caregiver support program while a full review of the benefit is conducted over the next three weeks. 

    The move comes two weeks after an NPR report that dozens of regional medical centers were cutting back on the number of families receiving caregiver benefits, possibly against VA rules. 

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    Caregivers
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  • Exclusive: New VA chief on public scrutiny: Bring it

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new message on public scrutiny: Bring it on.

    President Trump’s pick to lead the agency, VA Secretary David Shulkin, is unveiling a new web site that reveals for the first time exactly how care at VA hospitals compares with nearby private-sector hospitals and national averages. The site has data for roughly 20 hospitals but more will be added soon, the VA says.

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    Mental Health
    Physical Well-Being
    VA
  • Department of Veterans Affairs launches a new system to try to 'predict' veteran suicide

    Type of content: News

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new system to try to predict suicidal behavior among veterans called Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health—Veterans Enhanced Treatment, or REACH VET. 

    The program allows the VA to analyze data from health records and identify veterans that are at a statistically higher risk for suicide, hospitalization, illness and other issues.  

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    Mental Health
    VA
  • VA, Veterans Fighting Opioid Epidemic

    Type of content: News

    Jason Simcakoski, a 35-year-old Marine, husband and father, died at the Tomah VA  Medical Center in Wisconsin in 2014 from a toxic combination of prescription drugs. His overdose sparked national outrage, with some veterans calling VA hospitals “candy factories.” His death eventually led to the passage of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, which created stronger procedures for the prescription guidelines used by VA providers. 

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    Topics
    Legislation
    Physical Well-Being
    VA
  • Congress Advance Bill to Extend Veterans Choice Program

    Type of content: News

    The Senate and House of Representatives have both passed a bill to extend the Veterans Choice Program, a VA initiative to allow veterans access to non-VA healthcare when facing extraordinary wait times or other barriers to treatment, according to multiple sources.

    The Senate unanimously passed the bill earlier this week, according to a statement from Senator John McCain’s office.

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    Mental Health
    Physical Well-Being
    VA
  • Some VAs Are Dropping Veteran Caregivers From Their Rolls

    Type of content: News

    By the time they cut her from the program, Alishia Graham was angry, but not surprised. Her postman delivered the news in February.

    "The letter was sitting at the top — and my stomach dropped because I knew what it was," she says.

    The letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs informed Graham that her husband Jim, who sustained a brain injury on his third deployment to Iraq, no longer qualified for a caregiver to help with his daily life.

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    Topics
    Caregivers
    Family
    Mental Health
    Physical Well-Being
    VA
  • Concerns Linger Over Veterans Crisis Line Operations Despite Improvements

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs leaders say staffers at the Veterans Crisis Line have answered every single incoming call for 43 of the last 79 days. Oversight officials say there is still a lot of room for improvement. 

    “This is the one area where we must aim for perfection,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. “This is a zero-sum proposition, with lives in the balance.”

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    Mental Health
    Physical Well-Being
    VA
  • Suicide among female veterans up 85%

    Type of content: News

    RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Since 9/11 it’s not uncommon to see women in conflict areas around the world. Their numbers in the military have increased, and a new study shows their problems associated with war, too, have increased.

    A comprehensive study from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows the suicide rate among women vets has increased 85 percent over the last 25 years.

    “You had to be really tough, you know. You couldn't take anything less than excellence,” says Dawn Lafferty.

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    Topics
    Mental Health
    VA
    Women Veterans
  • Once a fixed issue, the VA disability claims backlog is on the rise again

    Type of content: News

    WASHINGTON — The number of backlogged veterans benefits claims is rising again. 

    Veterans Affairs officials insist it’s only a temporary problem, due to an unexpected rise in the number of new cases that flooded into the system over the last few months. They’re confident the 30,000-case increase in the backlog since last fall will be brought back down again in coming weeks. 

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