Department of France


5 Exercises for People over 50

Get Appointment Reminders to Your Phone

Veterans Benefits Newsletter February 2024

Check Your Blood Pressure Online

New Copay Rates for 2024

Veterans Benefits Newsletter January 2024

Vietnam War Veterans Health Issues

Try Messages on

Veterans Benefits Newsletter December 2023

Emergency Medical Care Coverage

International Fraud Awareness

Try Appointments on

Veterans Benefits Newsletter November 2023

My Health Vet's 20th Anniversary

Hearing Aids Connect with Telehealth

Veterans Benefits Newsletter October 2023

Where Are My Labs and Test Results

Know Your Dental Benefits

Veterans Benefits Newsletter September 2023

Plan Ahead With VA End-of-Life Benefits

Vets Hope to Broker Fixes for Military Base Quality of Life Issues

Five Exercises for People Over 50

PACT Act Special Enrollment Period

Veterans Benefits Newsletter August 2023

File Your PACT Act Claim by Aug. 9th

Emergency Medical Care Coverage

Veterans Benefits Newsletter July 2023

Summer Travel: Manage Appointments and Medication

Track Your Blood Pressure Online

Manage Your VA Appointments

Veterans Benefits Newsletter June 2023

Treat Your Pain at VA

PACT Act Speical Enrollment Period

My HealtheVet on

Veterans Benefits Newsletter May 2023

Veterans Benefits Newletter April 2023

Aging and Muscle Loss

Get Appointment Reminders to Your Phone

Travel Pay: How To Apply

Veterans Benefits Newsletter March 2023

The Hip Hinge and Yous Lower Back

Vietnam War Veterans Health Issues

Veterans Benefits Newsletter February 2023

New Copay Rates for 2023

Understanding Diabetic Nerve Damage

Veterans Benefits Newsletter January 2023

VA Benefit Payment Rate Increase

Get Care Now with VA Health Chat

New VA Life Insurance Coming Soon

Get a Custom Health Record Report

Veterans Benefits Newsletter December 22

Travel Tips: Appointments and Prescriptions

Get the New Toxic Exposure Screening

Veterans Benefits Newsletter November 22

VA Claim Exam

Manage Your VA Appointments

Veterans Health News

Veterans Benefits Newsletter October 22


Veterans Health News

Veterans Benefits Newsletter September 22

Pact Act Expands VA Benefits

Veterans Benefits Newsletter August 22

Veterans Benefits Newsletter July 22

Veterans Travel Pay News

Veterans Benefits Newsletter Jun 22

Veterans Benefits Newsletter May 22

How to Refill Your Prescription

June is PTSD Awareness Month

Veterans Benefits Newsletter April 22

Veterans Benefits Newsletter March 22

9 Rare Cansers Presumed Service Connected

VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities

Veterans Benefits Newsletter February 22

Veterans Benefits Newsletter January 22

Veterans Benefits Newsletter December 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter November 21

Veterans Benefits Newletter October 21

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Veterans Benefits Newletter August 21

Veterans Benefits Newletter July 21

Veterans Benefits Newletter June 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter May 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter April 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter March 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter February 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter January 21

Veterans Benefits Newsletter December 2020

Veterans Benefits Newsletter November 2020

Verterans Benefits Newsletter October 2020

Veterans Benefits Newsletter September 2020

Veterans Benefits Newsletter July 2020

Veterans Benefits Newsletter June 2020

Veterans Benefits Newsletter May 2020

Train for a Career in IT

Eight Ways to Avoid Fraud

Exchange and Commissary Access Expanded

Happy Holidays from the VA December 2019

VA OCONUS Connection December 2019

Benefit Rates Are Going Up

Managing VBA Performance and Results: Q4

VA Benefits Bulletin October 2019

Go Back to School with the GI Bill August 2019

My HealtheVet Prescripation Delivery Tracking

VA Benefits Bulletin May 2019

VA Benefits Bulletin February 2019

Posted 28 March 2018

American Legion: Shulkin made ‘positive changes’


(WASHINGTON, March 28, 2018)  -- The leader of the  nation’s largest veterans organization, American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan,  issued the following statement regarding the departure of  Dr. David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affairs:
“Secretary Shulkin has acted in the best interests of America’s veterans and was making meaningful, positive changes at the VA.  We wish Secretary Shulkin well on his next venture.
The American Legion looks forward to working directly with the president through this transition and going forward, and providing him an increased level of advice and feedback on the issues important to America’s veterans. 
The American Legion fought to create the Department of Veterans Affairs and we remain committed to its success.  Our 2 million members are opposed to any legislation or effort to close or privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, and we will continue to work vigorously to ensure our nation’s veterans have the efficient, transparent, and properly functioning VA that they deserve.”
Media contacts: :Washington, Joe Plenzler,, (202) 263-5758, c:(301) 800-9457, Indianapolis, John Raughter,, (317) 630-1350, c: (317) 441-8847





Posted 14 October 2017 
Retirees, VA Disability Recipients to Get Biggest Pay Raise Since 2012
Stack of money. (Getty Image)
Military retirees and those who receive disability checks and some other types of pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs will see a 2 percent pay raise in their monthly paychecks in 2018.
It is the biggest cost of living (COLA) increase since 2012, equaling as much as $310 a month for those at the top of the retirement pay charts.
Many Monthly Benefits Going Up
Thanks to the increase, the average military retirement check for an E-7 with 20 years of service will go up by $46 a month, while an O-5 with the same time in uniform will see an $88 monthly increase.
Disabled veterans will also see a bump, with the average VA disability check going up about $3 per month for those with a 10 percent rating, and $58 for those rated at 100 percent.
Other users, including Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiaries and those who draw Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), can also expect to benefit from the bump.
Related content:
Military retirees and VA beneficiaries aren't the only ones who benefit from the COLA increase. Civil service retirees will also see the 2 percent jump in their monthly checks.
And for Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will mean an extra $25 per month for the average beneficiary.
Biggest COLA Bump in Years
Most government payments see a COLA increase every year. The increase, which is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), makes sure payments keep up with inflation.
Recipients can thank a big jump in the cost of gasoline due to Hurricane Harvey for the jump in the CPI that caused this year's COLA boost.
The COLA affects benefits for more than 70 million U.S. residents, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees, and retired military members. That's about one in every five Americans.
Last year, the COLA increase was 0.3 percent; in 2015, retirees saw their checks remain at 2014 levels.
Lower Than the Active-Duty Pay Raise?
Congress is still hashing out the pay raise currently serving troops will receive for 2018.
Both a proposal passed by the Senate and a White House plan mandate a 2.1 percent increase. A measure passed by the House would instead give troops a 2.3 percent increase.
A decision on just what those troops will receive -- and whether what retirees and VA users will receive is lower -- has yet to be made. Lawmakers have recently started closed-door negotiations on the proposals.
Unlike that active-duty pay raise, the bump received by retirees and VA users does not require an act of Congress to go into effect. Those groups will see their pay raise in January regardless of what Congress does for current troops.
-- Jim Absher can be reached at

 Posted 21 September 2017
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Take Command to Make a Smooth Transition with TRICARE in 2018
You may be wondering what action you need to take, if any, to ensure you continue TRICARE coverage in 2018. If you’re currently enrolled in or eligible for TRICARE coverage on Dec. 31, 2017, you’ll transition to your respective TRICARE plan on Jan. 1, 2018. If you want to enroll in a TRICARE plan or change coverage after Jan. 1, 2018, you’ll need to take action to enroll in the plan of your choice.
All beneficiaries should take action by making sure their information is current in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). If you’ve experienced any changes (for example, marriage, birth, divorce and death), update DEERS as soon as possible to ensure continuous TRICARE coverage.
TRICARE is Changing. Here is what you need to know:
Automatic Transition for Current Enrollees
Beneficiaries enrolled in TRICARE Prime, either stateside or overseas, as of Dec. 31, 2017 will remain enrolled in TRICARE Prime on Jan. 1, 2018. If you have TRICARE Standard or TRICARE Extra as of Dec. 31, 2017, you’ll transition to TRICARE Select. TRICARE Select replaces TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra on Jan. 1, 2018.
If you’re enrolled in any TRICARE premium-based plan on Dec. 31, 2017, you’ll remain enrolled in your plan on Jan. 1, 2018 as long as you continue to make your premium payments. These premium-based plans include:
  • TRICARE Young Adult
  •  TRICARE Reserve Select
  • TRICARE Retired Reserve
On Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE will transition its stateside regional contractors from three to two. Beneficiaries who pay premiums or enrollment fees by electronic funds transfer or recurring debit/credit card payment will be contacted to update their payment information. If you currently pay through a Defense Finance and Accounting Service allotment, your payments will automatically transfer. 
If your current TRICARE health plan coverage doesn’t automatically transition, contact the TRICARE contractor for your region. The are no changes to the TRICARE For Life (TFL) benefit. TFL beneficiaries will not have to take any action.
Automatic Enrollment of New Enrollees
New active duty service members are automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Prime Remote if they live in remote areas in the U.S. Stateside active duty family members (ADFMs) who become eligible for TRICARE on or after Jan. 1, 2018 will also be automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime if they live in a Prime Service Area. If family members live outside a Prime Service Area, they’ll be automatically enrolled in TRICARE Select. ADFMs who are automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select have up to 90 days after the eligibility date to change health plans.
TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) ADFMs will be automatically enrolled in TRICARE Select. They will also have 90 days to change their enrollment to TOP Prime or Prime Remote if they are command sponsored.
This is Your Benefit! Are You Ready?
Enroll by Nov. 20, 2017 for Coverage Beginning Jan. 1, 2018
By Nov. 20, 2017, beneficiaries should complete any and all enrollment actions. During December 2017, there will be an enrollment freeze for TRICARE Prime enrollments, and a delay for primary care manager changes. You’ll still be able to receive care during the enrollment freeze. If you have a problem accessing care, contact your regional contractor.
For all other stateside beneficiaries, you’ll also need to complete any and all enrollment actions by Nov. 20, 2017 to ensure continued health coverage in 2018. As long as your regional contractor receives your completed enrollment application by the 20th of the month, your coverage will begin on the first day of the next month. The 20th of the month rule doesn’t apply to beneficiaries overseas, and will go away for everyone starting in 2018.
Enrolling is easy. You can enroll in certain TRICARE plans over the phone, email or mail. Check out how to enroll or purchase a plan.
Visit the TRICARE Changes page to stay informed with the latest information. You can also sign up for email alerts to get an email anytime new updates are available. Staying informed will help you take command of your health and prepare for changes in 2018. 
Last Updated 9/20/2017

2017 VA Disability Compensation Rates
The following tables show the 2017 VA compensation rates for veterans with a disability rating 10 percent or higher. (Effective Dec. 1, 2016)
Dependents Allowance:
In addition veterans entitled to compensation whose disability is rated as 30 percent or more, are entitled to additional compensation for dependents as follows (monthly amounts):
Without Children:
Disability Rating: 30% - 60%
Disability Rating: 70% - 100%
With Children:
Disability Rating: 30% - 60%
Disability Rating: 70% - 100%
You May Also Like: Dependency & Indemnity Compensation a VA benefit for survivors of disabled veterans.
10% - 20% (With or Without Dependents)

30% - 60% Without Children
Dependent Status
Veteran Alone
Veteran with Spouse Only
Veteran with Spouse & One Parent
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents
Veteran with One Parent
Veteran with Two Parents
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)

70% - 100% Without Children
Dependent Status
Veteran Alone
Veteran with Spouse Only
Veteran with Spouse and One Parent
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents
Veteran with One Parent
Veteran with Two Parents
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)

30% - 60% With Children
Dependent Status
Veteran with Spouse and Child
Veteran with Child Only
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child
Veteran with One Parent and Child
Veteran with Two Parents and Child
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)

70% - 100% With Children
Dependent Status
Veteran with Spouse and Child
Veteran with Child Only
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child
Veteran with One Parent and Child
Veteran with Two Parents and Child
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)
  • A. Rates for each school child are shown separately. They are not included with any other compensation rates. All other entries on this chart reflecting a rate for children show the rate payable for children under 18 or helpless. To find the amount payable to a 70% disabled Veteran with a spouse and four children, one of whom is over 18 and attending school, take the 70% rate for a veteran with a spouse and 3 children, $ 1,646.71, and add the rate for one school child, $182.00. The total amount payable is $1,828.71.
  • B. Where the veteran has a spouse who is determined to require A/A, add the figure shown as "additional for A/A spouse" to the amount shown for the proper dependency code. For example, veteran has A/A spouse and 2 minor children and is 70% disabled. Add $105.00, additional for A/A spouse, to the rate for a 70% veteran with dependency code 12, $1,590.71. The total amount payable is $1,695.71.
These rates were provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The original copies can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
VA Travel Reimbursement
Reimbursement for mileage or public transportation may be paid to the following:
  1. Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated at 30% or more;
  2. Veterans traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition;
  3. Veterans receiving a VA pension;
  4. Veterans traveling for scheduled compensation or pension examinations;
  5. Veterans whose income does not exceed the maximum VA pension rate;
Mileage Reimbursement is at the rate of 41.5 cents per mile. These mileage subject to a deductible of $3 for a one way trip, $6 for a round trip, with a maximum of $18 per or the amount after six one-way trips (whichever occurs first) per calendar month. However, these deductibles can be waived if they cause a financial hardship to the veteran.
The deductible is also waived for veterans traveling for scheduled compensation or pension examinations.

Posted 19 July 2017

Mark Wahlberg and Marcus Luttrell have a special message for Veterans about their new online shopping benefit! Visit today to confirm eligibility. Welcome home Veterans and thank you for your service.
AAFES Exchange New Veterans Benefits
Posted 18 May 2017

The American Legion GI Bill forum,
exhibit set for The National WWII Museum


June 20 event to open centennial salute to “the greatest legislation”
WASHINGTON (May 17, 2017) - The original cover and signature page of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, along with the typed and hand-edited speech given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after signing it, will be showcased at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans beginning June 20 as part of an American Legion centennial salute to the GI Bill.
        The bill, drafted and pushed to passage by The American Legion in 1943 and 1944, transformed the United States, building the middle class and democratizing higher education. The exhibit, titled “The Greatest Legislation,” features illustrated panels and touchscreen videos that tell the dramatic story of how The American Legion drafted the measure and overcame numerous challenges to get it to the president’s desk June 22, 1944. It also traces the effects of the bill during the 20th century and its evolution to best serve veterans of the post 9/11 era.
        A free reception at the museum is planned at 5 p.m. June 20, followed by a moderated panel discussion led by American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV. Scheduled panelists include former U.S. Sen. James Webb, who wrote, introduced and championed the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008; VA Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Curtis Coy; Student Veterans of America CEO and President Jared Lyon; and American Legion Assistant Director of Veterans Employment and Education John Kamin.
        The panel discussion will include remarks from National WWII Museum President Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller and American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones. The event will include a question-and-answer session were audience members will be invited to share the ways in which the GI Bill has influenced their lives and to discuss the future of the benefit for today’s veterans.
        In addition to the cover and signature pages of the original act, on loan from the National Archives, and the speech, on loan from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, is a pen used by President Roosevelt to sign the bill into law, on loan from The American Legion National Headquarters.
        Visitors planning to attend the June 20 event are asked to call ahead at
1-877-813-3329 extension 412.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit
With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion,, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 13,000 posts across the nation.
Contact: Joe Plenzler, (202) 263-5758/ 301-800-9457 cell,
John B. Raughter
Deputy Director, Media Relations
Phone: (317) 630-1350  Fax: (317) 630-1368


Posted 27 April 2017
Legion learns about VA's program to improve health care
Dr. Luis E. Selva describes the process by which DNA is made from blood samples to Past National Commander Jake Comer and Department of Massachusetts Commander Ken Starks at the Million Veteran Program in Massachusetts. Photo by Joe Plenzler/The American Legion
By Joe Plenzler

The MVP is a national research program funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs in partnership with veterans receiving care in the VA health care system.

The purpose of the MVP is to learn more about how a person's genetics affects their health so that doctors can better understand diseases and design future treatments specific to an individual's molecular body composition.

The research is led by Dr. Mike Gaziano and Dr. John Concato who co-lead the MVP as principal investigators.

“We are doing this for veterans, and we are leading in building the best and largest genetic cohort in the world,” Gaziano said.  "We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential of this research. It is an exciting paradigm shift that will have as large an impact on medical science as the Apollo space missions, the Hubble Telescope, and the supercollider at CERN had on the world of physics."

This database is already providing medical researchers opportunities to study the ways a person’s genes contribute to Gulf War Illness and post-traumatic stress disorder risk factors, functional disability in schizophrenia and bipolar illness, substance abuse, obesity, diabetes, heart, kidney and cardiovascular disease, and macular degeneration.

Gaziano and his team of medical researchers are actively recruiting veterans to participate in this project with the goal of obtaining one million DNA samples.

Launched in 2011, the program reached its half-way goal in August of 2016 when they collected their 500,000th DNA sample - establishing the MVP as the largest genomic database in the world.

The success of the program relies on three factors:

  • Veteran volunteers,

  • Access to veterans' electronic health records, and

  • Completion of a lifestyle questionnaire and DNA blood sample.

The American Legion leadership is excited about the potential of this project to improve health care for veterans and all Americans.

Legionnaires interested in participating in this landmark study can apply at

Data collected from the MVP will be stored anonymously.

Posted 26 April 2017
VA, Legion team up to provide benefits info
Due to a recent change, veterans can now find out in advance if they and their family members are eligible for burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs national cemetery. To share this information, as well as answer other questions regarding VA memorial benefits, The American Legion and VA staff recently teamed up for a live chat on Facebook.
Previously, eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery could only be determined after the death of the veteran or family member. With the change, veterans can find out if they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery before the time of need. This “pre-need” eligibility determination helps families plan in advance and streamline access to burial benefits that veterans have earned through military service for themselves and their eligible family members.
Anyone interested in applying for a pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery may submit VA Form 40-10007. More information is available here.
Many of the chat questions were related to eligibility, including whether or not it was necessary to have served in a war zone. VA staff responded that veterans with other than a dishonorable discharge and their spouses generally are eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Those inquiring were advised to apply for pre-need eligibility.
Other veterans inquired as to how long it normally takes to hear back from VA after applying for pre-need eligibility. The average wait time is 90 days. And the question of whether spouses could also be buried in a national cemetery was presented. Those spouses also were advised to apply for pre-need eligibility.
The chat also provided 10 frequently asked questions about memorial benefits. Included in those were:
I plan to be buried in a private cemetery and all I want is a government headstone. Can I use the pre-need burial form to determine if I’m eligible for a government headstone or marker? Yes. We encourage you to submit a completed VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery even if you are only interested in receiving a government-furnished headstone or marker. VA will maintain your pre-need application, supporting documentation and decision letter in an electronic information system. At your time of need, your family member or individual responsible for the disposition of your remains must submit a VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker. They should write in box 27 entitled “REMARKS” on VA Form 40-1330 “decedent has a VA pre-need decision letter”.
Who can apply for a pre-need burial eligibility determination? Veterans and spouses can apply for a pre-need burial eligibility determination. Family members, authorized representatives and agents can apply on behalf of eligible claimants. Learn more here.
What happens after you determine that you are eligible for VA burials? VA will save the pre-need claim form, supporting documentation and decision letter in a recallable system to expedite your burial arrangements at your time of need. At time of death, should your family or personal representative request burial in a VA national cemetery, VA will confirm eligibility based on the laws in effect at that time.
To view the chat in its entirety, click here.
American Legion National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Deputy Director Zachary Hearn testifies during a legislative hearing on April 5, in Washington, D.C. Photo By Johnathon Clinkscales
Legion testifies on proposed 2017 veteran legislation
American Legion National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Deputy Director Zachary Hearn testified before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on April 5 in regards to seven proposed laws that impact veterans. The laws range from financial fraud protection to increased transparency for disability claims processing and adjudication.
“The simple fact is (that) serving in our nation’s armed forces is inherently dangerous,” Hearn said in his opening remarks. “Medical conditions may manifest due to service, and we, as a society, have an obligation to compensate for medical conditions related to this service. Many of these veterans depend upon these benefits and for this reason, it is imperative that we ensure these deserving veterans and their family members receive the highest level of consideration.”
When it comes to having an obligation to compensate, H.R. 105, the Protect Veterans from Financial Fraud Act of 2017, is designed to ensure that the VA secretary is able to repay veterans who have been swindled by fiduciaries, as well as establish an appeals process for determinations by the VA secretary of veterans’ mental capacity and for other purposes.
Hearn said VA’s Fiduciary Program is designed to protect the most vulnerable beneficiaries who are deemed unable to manage their financial affairs. Over 50 percent of these beneficiaries are 80 years old or older, and in most cases, are unable to recover their lost benefits because not all fiduciaries act in their best interest, he said.
The Legion supports the passage of H.R. 105, according to Hearn, as all veterans injured by VA fiduciaries should be able to collect on lost funds due to a betrayal of trust.
“Veterans who have been impacted by poor acting fiduciaries do not have the ability to recoup their lost funds from VA unless the fiduciary represents 10 or greater beneficiaries,” said Hearn. “(H.R. 105) would now permit VA to provide the lost funds to the veteran regardless of the amount of beneficiaries represented by a fiduciary.”
As for H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017, Hearn said it corrects a wrong that has plagued the Blue Water veterans community, which includes over 800,000 people who served on open sea ships during the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1975.
“(For years,) Blue Water Navy veterans have pointed to a 2002 Australian study that found the distilling of seawater not only failed to eliminate the toxic chemicals, but it (also) enhanced its impact,” Hearn said.
In May 2011, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report, “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure,” after the VA requested a review of medical and scientific evidence on the veterans’ exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange, a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided cover for enemies during Operation Ranch Hand in the Vietnam War.
The report from IOM concluded that there was not enough evidence to support the Blue Water Navy veterans’ presumptive exposure to such herbicides. “In short, VA cannot prove Blue Water Navy veterans were exposed to Agent Orange and it appears they never will,” Hearn said. “The American Legion has long believed that these veterans of the Blue Water Navy deserve to be treated as presumptively exposed and supports (H.R. 299).”
H.R. 1328, the American Heroes Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act of 2017, would seek to provide an automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment for veterans disability benefits. While this bill would prove efficient in the administration of COLA, Hearn said it could come at a significant cost to the nation’s veterans as it uses the Chained Consumer Price Index, or chained CPI, as its foundation.
Hearn said the current COLA formula already understates the true cost-of-living increases faced by seniors and people with disabilities. “A 30-year-old veteran with no children and 100 percent disabled would likely lose about $100,000 in disability compensation by the time the veteran (reaches) 75 years of age. This is the equivalent of years of benefits lost due to (H.R. 1328),” Hearn said.
Although the Legion understands and appreciates the efforts to remove affected veterans from the political debate in determining appropriate annual adjustments for disability benefits, Hearn said the Legion opposes any legislative efforts to automatically index such cost-of-living adjustments to the cost-of-living adjustment authorized for Social Security recipients, non-service connected disability recipients and death pension beneficiaries, as noted in American Legion Resolution No. 187.
Unlike H.R. 1328, Hearn said the Legion supports legislation to provide a periodic cost-of-living adjustment increase and to increase the monthly rates of disability compensation. H.R. 1329, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017, would provide a COLA for VA disability and other monetary benefits effective this year on Dec. 1.
“For nearly 100 years, The American Legion has advocated on behalf of our nation’s veterans, to include the awarding of disability benefits associated with chronic medical conditions that manifest related to selfless service to this nation,” Hearn said. “COLA is not simply an acronym or a minor adjustment in benefits. Instead, it is a tangible benefit that meets the needs of the increasing costs of living in a nation that they bravely defended.”
H.R. 1390 authorizes the VA to pay costs associated with transporting deceased veterans to state or tribal-owned veterans cemeteries. VA currently pays transportation costs for national cemeteries – Hearn said the Legion supports this bill as it would expand options for veterans’ families.
H.R. 1564, the VA Beneficiary Travel Act of 2017, specifies a funding source for travel related to examinations by medical professionals, not employed by VA, for compensation and pension examinations. This Legion-supported bill properly designates where VA draws funds for veterans to receive payment for travel to compensation and pension exams and does not impose additional funding requirements.
In terms of disability compensation claims, the Legion has reviewed tens of thousands of claims in regional offices around the country for the last 20 years through its Regional Office Action Review program. Hearn said the Legion has even testified to Congress that VA schedules unnecessary and duplicative examinations, despite already having the evidence necessary to grant such claims.
“This second exam comes at a cost to VA and delays an adjudication,” Hearn said. “Despite enduring medical examinations for Social Security purposes and having the benefit granted by the agency, VA would conduct their own examinations to determine the veteran’s employability. Some in the veteran community refer to this needless development of disability claims as ‘developing to deny.’”
While it’s unfortunate that a bill has to be passed to force VA to do what it already has the authority to do, Hearn said H.R. 1725, the Quicker Benefits Delivery Act of 2017, would compel VA to release data that establishes acceptable clinical evidence and increase transparency for claims development and adjudication.
“The American Legion believes that the treatment of the evidence received from private medical providers will receive higher consideration,” he said. “This will expedite adjudications and increase claims processing transparency.”
Posted 23 March 2017
American Legion National Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Director Louis Celli speaks at a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing on March 22 at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Legion testifies on the dangers of VA staff shortages

The hearing, hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, focused on “Healthy Hiring: Enabling VA to Recruit and Retain Quality Providers.” Celli was among several other witnesses who spoke, including U.S. Government Accountability Office Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff, Partnership for Public Service President and CEO Max Stier, and Steve Young, deputy undersecretary for Health for Operations and Management at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs VHA.
Celli said the Legion has been concerned about the dangers of staffing shortages among physician and medical specialists at VHA since 1998. “VA currently operates 1,233 health care centers and at one time,” he said. “In 2015, VA lost over 2,000 medical officers alone. We have got to do better.”
A full one-third of all veterans treated by the VA live in a rural area and the Legion echoes VA’s concern to increase access to quality health care for veterans living in those communities. Celli said VA medical centers in rural areas face ongoing challenges recruiting and retaining qualified medical and clinical providers due to their inability to compete with medical centers in large metropolitan areas.
“The differences between VA and nearly every other hospital in America is selectivity,” said Celli. “This is a business model that no other hospital system in the country suffers under, nor would they be able to survive if made to adhere to the regulatory guidance that VA has to follow.”
As the number of veterans residing in rural communities continue to grow, Celli said veterans will continue struggling to find timely and quality VA health care that meets the needs of the communities in which they live. “In 2015, during our SWS (System Worth Saving) site visit to the VA Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, providers were openly upset about the number of physician vacancies and how the additional workload is impacting morale at the medical centers,” he said. “One veteran told us, ‘Every time I visit the medical center, I am assigned a new primary care provider because my last provider either quit or transferred to another VA.”
Unfortunately, Celli said there are no easy solutions for VHA when it comes to effectively and efficiently recruiting and retaining staff at VA health care facilities. The American Legion believes that access to basic health care services offered by qualified primary care providers should be available locally, as often as possible, at all times, he said.
“There are too many vacancies in VHA and the recent action by (President Donald Trump) to freeze federal hiring will only add to delays in performing life-saving surgeries, patient wait times and claims backlogs,” said Celli. “All health care employees are essential and critical to the health and safety of all patients entrusted to their care.”
Celli said VA will never be in a position to compete with the private sector. VHA is going to have to start leveraging the resources they already have to attract and retain medical talent. “VA has a variety of creative solutions available to them with and without the need for additional legislative action,” he said.
Celli urged the committee members to consider the following options:
  • Open VA to more patients;
  • Make VA more competitive and allow them to accept all forms of insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.;
  • Make VA a destination employer by offering physicians rotations in research, emergency preparedness and education areas;
  • Call on VA to establish a medical school; and
  • Instruct VA to engage in public-private partnerships with community hospitals across the country by renting wings of existing hospitals.
“The American Legion understands that fulfilling highly skilled vacancies at premiere VA hospitals around the country is challenging,” said Celli. “The American Legion calls on Congress and the American people to treat VA with fair and balanced criticism as well as praise. We all have a moral obligation to make it better, not torture it to death.“
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, speaks during a meeting about veterans affairs, Friday, March 17, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Published: March 17, 2017
WASHINGTON DC – Ten major veterans groups sat down with President Donald Trump on Friday to discuss veterans issues ranging from health care for women to creating a White House office dedicated to veteran empowerment.
Veterans groups have worked for months to secure the meeting with Trump, who had made veterans issues a major part of presidential campaign. Several of the veterans who attended the listening session with Trump described the meeting as “positive” and “conversational.”
“He was really into the conversation, and his staff promised more conversations. They seemed dedicated to that,” said Joe Chenelly, director of American Veterans. “We’ll take the president at his word when he says this is just the beginning of working together as partners and reforming the [Department of Veterans Affairs], particularly the health care issues.”
In addition to Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, VA Secretary David Shulkin and senior White House staff, including Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner and Omarosa Manigault were present, the veterans said.
Organizations represented were the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Veterans, Concerned Veterans forAmerica, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Got Your 6.
Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, took to Twitter on Friday, saying he was disappointed the White House denied IAVA’s request to attend.
Verna Jones, executive director of the American Legion, had strongly appealed for the meeting. Bill Rausch, executive director of the veterans nonprofit Got Your 6, said he thought the meeting showed the White House’s commitment to the veteran community.
“We’re hoping this is one of many,” Jones said of the meeting with the president.
During the meeting, Trump refuted claims he would privatize the VA, Jones said, reiterating a message Shulkin and key Republican lawmakers have conveyed in recent months.
“He assured us the VA is here to stay, that they’re not going to privatize it – veterans will have a healthy VA,” Jones said.
Some groups have expressed concerns that veterans’ health care would move too far into the private sector and remove services from the VA, which they see as providing care uniquely fit for veterans.
Rausch said there was “a clear consensus for support of the veteran community through a strong VA” during the meeting.
The members from each group took turns talking to Trump about their priorities. Some of them spoke about the Veterans Choice Program, which veterans use to receive care in the private sector when they can’t get an appointment at a VA facility. The program, which has been criticized as complex and confusing, is in flux. It will expire in August without action from Congress, and Shulkin is working on an improved version that he promises will have “less red tape.”
Chenelly told Trump that the choice program should continue, but the VA should better inform veterans about their options when deciding where to seek health care.
Rausch proposed Trump sign an executive order establishing a new office in the White House dedicated to veteran empowerment. Trump was receptive to the idea, Rausch said, and asked Pence to follow up.
Others told Trump about the need to modernize the process that veterans use to claim disability and pension compensation and the need for more benefits to caregivers of veterans injured pre-9/11, Jones and Chenelly said. They also asked for more details about an announcement that Shulkin made last week that he would expand urgent mental health care for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.
“There was not a lot of response from them, but I saw that as our chance to have our voices heard,” Chenelly said.
In statements before the meeting, Shulkin thanked Trump for the budget that he proposed Thursday for the VA, which includes a $4.4 billion increase from 2017.
“I think you’re upholding your commitment to showing that this country cares about the veterans, and you’ve given us the ability to make sure that we are able to care for them,” Shulkin told Trump.
Shulkin also thanked the Republican-led House for passing legislation Thursday that would allow him to quickly fire, demote and suspend VA employees. That bill now will now go to the Senate, but there’s no clear timeline of when senators will consider it.
Mark Lucas, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said he urged Trump during the meeting to talk to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about expediting a vote on the bill.
Trump said he’s heard “horrible stories” about the VA but “already a lot of improvements are being made.”
He said he was forming a VA board that will be comprised of businessmen and medical professionals. Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment, is part of that board, Trump said, though he did not say who else will take part. The president also announced a “major” meeting about the VA scheduled for Friday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has been critical of Trump for not meeting with veterans groups. He said Friday that the listening session was a “step in the right direction.”
“Moving forward, I am hopeful the administration will better engage with key veterans’ advocates to ensure they have a seat at the table in shaping policies,” he said in a statement.
US Army News
Posted 22 February 2017 
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Information Technology Specialist (INFOSEC)
Job Announcement Number: NCBV174561521915087HI
Location Name: Warren, Michigan
Department: Department of the Army
Agency: Army Tank-Automotive and Armament Command (TACOM)
Occupation Code: 2210
Pay Plan: GS
Appointment Duration: Term NTE 13 months
Opening Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Closing Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Job Status: Full Time
Salary: $65,767.00 to $85,494.00 / Per Year
Pay Grade(s): 11 to 11
Who May Apply: United States Citizens
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About the Position:
Information Technology Specialist (INFOSEC)
Job Announcement Number: NCBV175623891915416HI
Location Name: Warren, Michigan
Department: Department of the Army
Agency: Army Tank-Automotive and Armament Command (TACOM)
Occupation Code: 2210
Pay Plan: GS
Appointment Duration: Term NTE 13 Months
Opening Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Closing Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Job Status: Full Time
Salary: $93,737.00 to $121,857.00 / Per Year
Pay Grade(s): 13 to 13
Who May Apply: United States Citizens
Job Summary:
About the Position: This position is under the supervision of the Business Management Directorate, Information Management & Support Directorate. The referral list generated by this announcement may be used to fill future vacancies in other organizations throughout the Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC). The ILSC is responsible for sustaining war fighting readiness and managing a large part of the Army's investment in war fighting capacity as integrators of nearly 3,000 weapon systems that form the core of the Army's war fighting capability. TACOM is located in Southeastern Michigan, north of Detroit, with nearby universities, world-class museums, art galleries, concert halls, golf courses, and collegiate and professional athletic venues. We provide flexible work schedules depending on the mission and free on-site parking. TACOM generates, provides and sustains mobility, lethality, and survivability for soldiers, other U.S. Military services, and our allies, all to ensure Army readiness today, tomorrow, and beyond. TACOM's military and civilian associates develop and implement technology and logistics solutions for the soldier. From Tank-Automotive and Armaments weapon systems research and development through retirement, TACOM's associates provide cradle-to-grave support to America's armed forces. The soldier is truly the focus of everything we do. Who May Apply: U.S. Citizens

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VA News
Posted 21 February 2017
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In Case You Missed It:  The Center for Women Veterans is sharing recent news stories that may be of interest to women Veterans, military women, and their supporters on a weekly basis.  Share your thoughts about them on social media with the hashtag #womenVets.
Passing of the Leash
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs provides first female Veteran a service dog. [from The Daily Times]
Sorting the Mail, Blazing a Trail: African-American Women in World War II
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
The push to include African-Americans in the WAAC had faced challenges, but the efforts of African-American newspapers and activists had ultimately prevailed. A quota was set for 10 percent of the total WAAC. [from U.S. Department of Defense]
Profiles of Bravery - Brig. Gen. Hazel Johnson-Brown
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
1979: First black chief of the Army Corps and first black female brigadier general. [from U.S. Army]
Face of Defense: Navy Chief Finds Joy in Volunteer Work
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
In less than a year, Navy Chief Petty Officer Heather Lane will retire from the Navy and begin a civilian career. When she leaves she will have completed in excess of 6,000 volunteer hours, received four Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals, and be eligible for the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service. [from U.S. Department of Defense]
No limits: Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris Broke Air Force's Barriers with Resolve
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
Stayce Harris, the first black woman to become an Air Force lieutenant general, gets her inspiration from the legendary Tuskegee airmen. [from USA Today]
Face of Defense: Deployed Siblings Reunite After 10 Years Apart
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
Both brother and sister are currently deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. [from U.S. Department of Defense]
Face of Defense: Army Mom Surprises Daughters With Early Return
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
When she came out, her daughters leaped from their chairs and ran to her. [from U.S. Department of Defense]
Face of Defense: Coast Guard Reservist Succeeds Through Hard Work, Dedication
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Casondra Minifield, currently a graduate student at Marymount University, is a reserve boatswain’s mate who hopes to advance in the Coast Guard while seeking a career in federal law enforcement. [from U.S. Department of Defense]
SPECIAL REPORT: Female Vets and PTSD, Part 3
02/17/2017 07:00 AM EST
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifests itself in different ways. Some Vets have nightmares, others deal with anger issues or have trouble maintaining relationships. [from News West 9]
Vets Group: New Study Results Justify Continued Funding for GI Bill
02/16/2017 07:00 AM EST
The study found that 54 percent of Veterans who used the bill from 2009 to 2015 completed degrees. As of September 2015, 18 percent were still working on their degrees. Of those, 23 percent were women, though women are only about 16 to 18 percent of the armed forces. [from Stars and Stripes]
Helping Homeless Veterans Does Not End with Housing Them
02/16/2017 07:00 AM EST
Since 2009, the number of homeless Veterans dropped nearly 50 percent - and in 2015 alone, the number decreased by 17 percent. [from Stars and Stripes]
CWV Partner eMentor Program Winner of 2017 Leadership Excellence Award
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
This award recognizes exceptional leadership development and programs of a solution partner or provider.
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
Post traumatic stress disorder in Veterans comes in many forms, whether it stems from combat missions, sexual trauma, feeling alone or worrying about family. Now more and more women are showing signs of the disorder. [from News West 9]
2017 Dole Caregiver Fellows Announced
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
Military and Veteran Caregivers who Advocate for the 5.5 million Hidden Heroes caring for Wounded, Ill and Injured Veterans. [from Elizabeth Dole Foundation]
After the War: Female Veterans Fight Military Sexual Trauma at Home
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
Listed on the Department of Veterans Affairs' website are several initiatives that have been put in place to accommodate women. [from WTVR]
Combat to Community: Engaging Veterans in the Workforce
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
In-Person Event and Webinar, March 16 [from Swords to Plowshares]
Women Marines Celebrate 74 Years of Service Feb. 13
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
The Marine Corps has been in existence for more than two centuries, but women have only been able to wear the eagle, globe and anchor for the last seven decades. [from JD News]
Got Your 6 Welcomes Lauren Augustine as Director of Government Relations
02/15/2017 07:00 AM EST
U.S. Army veteran to lead group's empowerment policy efforts. [from Got Your Six]
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DOD News
Posted 21 February 2017




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New DoD electronic medical record system called a success

The Defense Department’s newly modernized electronic health record system was recognized as successful after a week-long deployment at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, officials there said Feb. 15, 2017.






VA News
Posted 3 Febuary 2017

See the changes to VA benefitsVeterans Day poster contest


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American Legion eager to work with new VA Secretary
Posted 11 January 2017
WASHINGTON (January 11, 2017) – National Commander Charles E. Schmidt of The American Legion issued the following statement concerning President-Elect Trump’s selection of Dr. David J. Shulkin to lead the department of Veterans Affairs:
“My staff and I have worked closely with Dr. Shulkin and believe he has improved the Veterans Health Administration in the short time he has been at the helm.  I met with him just last month and believe he is deeply committed to improving VA care and all of the services that VA provides to veterans.   If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Shulkin will continue to find The American Legion to be a resourceful and knowledgeable friend with nearly a century of experience as an advocate for America’s veterans. While The American Legion believes in a strong and robust VA, friends tell each other the unvarnished truth. When VA serves veterans well, we will say so. When it doesn’t, we will demand fixes. The American Legion has a team of Washington-based staff, and expert volunteers from across the nation, who are eager to meet with Dr. Shulkin to discuss ways to modernize an antiquated appeals system, decrease wait times for health care and hold poor-performing VA staff accountable. We believe that Dr. Shulkin shares our goals.”
With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion,, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 13,000 posts across the nation.
Media contacts: John Raughter (317) 630-1350 / 317-441-8847 (cell),  or Michael Dorsey (202) 263-5758,
John B. Raughter
Deputy Director, Media Relations
Phone: (317) 630-1350  Fax: (317) 630-1368
Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
David J. Shulkin
Under Secretary for Health
Posted 11 January 2017
Dr. David J. Shulkin
The Honorable Dr. David J. Shulkin is Under Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As the Chief Executive of the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Shulkin leads the nation’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year. The Veterans Health Administration is also the nation’s largest provider of graduate medical education and major contributor of medical research. Dr. Shulkin will have oversight over the system that employs over 300,000 people who work in the health system.
Prior to being nominated by President Obama and being confirmed by the United States Senate as Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shulkin served in numerous chief executive roles including serving as President at Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization. Dr. Shulkin also previously served as President and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Shulkin has held numerous physician leadership roles including the Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University Hospital, and the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Shulkin has also held academic positions including the Chairman of Medicine and Vice Dean at Drexel University School of Medicine. As an entrepreneur, Dr. Shulkin founded and served as the Chairman and CEO of DoctorQuality one of the first consumer-oriented sources of information for quality and safety in healthcare.
Dr. Shulkin is a board-certified internist, a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, his internship at Yale University School of Medicine, and a residency and Fellowship in General Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Medical Center. He received advanced training in outcomes research and economics as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.
Over his career Dr. Shulkin has been named as one of the Top 100 Physician Leaders of Hospitals and Health Systems by Becker’s Hospital Review and one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives in the Country” by Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician. He has also previously been named, “One Hundred Most Influential People in American Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare.
Daniel S. Wheeler
National Adjutant
The American Legion 
“Every Day Is Veterans Day”