Sunday, December 29, 2013

Marc Burgess DAV National Adjutant/CEO

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Numbers Have Power, Sean...
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…but nothing tells the story like a smile you put on a veteran's face through your involvement in DAV!

Dear Sean,

As the year winds down, please accept my personal salute for what your DAV membership meant during 2013.

Through DAV, you did so much to make this a year of incredible hope for our brothers and sisters in arms, as well as their families.

Maybe you were there in person to perform these services,Sean; maybe you were there in spirit. But through DAV, you helped to:

  • Transform the lives of injured veterans and families by connecting them to programs and services that help them find healing and hope after military service.

  • Deliver more than $250,000 in disaster relief to veterans whose lives were shattered by tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and floods.

  • Drive 27.5 million miles to give veterans 782,000 rides to treatment at VA medical facilities. 

Those are just three snapshots of what you made possible in one of the most challenging years our veterans have ever faced, Sean!

There are so many more achievements we could list. And as a DAV member, you know that many veterans with service-connected conditions will continue to struggle in 2014.

But I feel confident as we prepare for a new year. I know that you, as a DAV member, have the backs of your fellow veterans.

Thank you from my heart!

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Marc Burgess
DAV National Adjutant/CEO



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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Wednesday, December 18, 2013

VETERANS GROUP APPEALS IN MT. SOLEDAD VETERANS MEMORIAL FIGHT AFTER COURT ORDERS CROSS REMOVAL



 
VETERANS GROUP APPEALS IN MT. SOLEDAD VETERANS MEMORIAL FIGHT AFTER COURT ORDERS CROSS REMOVAL
Liberty Institute, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association Fight to Preserve Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross and the Symbol of Selfless Sacrifice It Represents
 
SAN DIEGO, CA, DECEMBER 17, 2013—Today, the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association (MSMA), represented by Liberty Institute and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, filed its notice of appeal of a district court's order requiring the removal of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross. The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, erected in 1954, is the nation's oldest Korean War Veterans Memorial. To view the notice of appeal online, follow this link: http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=120
 
"This appeal is just the first step toward what many believe is the ultimate destination for this case – the United States Supreme Court," said, Allyson Ho, lead counsel for the MSMA, and co-chair of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice at Morgan, Lewis &  Bockius LLP.
 
Bruce Bailey, MSMA President and CEO, said, "The Association built this Korean War veterans memorial with support from The American Legion close to 60 years ago, and it will continue to fight to preserve it for future generations."
 
Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Institute, said, "If we fail to preserve this veterans memorial and the ACLU is successful in tearing down the oldest Korean War veterans memorial in the United States, then so too will be the fate of other veterans memorials like it, including the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice and the Argonne Cross in Arlington Cemetery."
 
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation's Founders. For information, visitwww.LibertyInstitute.org.
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Photo Caption: VETERANS GROUP APPEALS IN MT. SOLEDAD VETERANS MEMORIAL FIGHT AFTER COURT ORDERS CROSS REMOVAL 



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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Wednesday, December 11, 2013

VA Official Outlines Progress in Reducing Claims Backlog

12/11/2013 12:23 PM CST


VA Official Outlines Progress in Reducing Claims Backlog

From a Department of Veterans Affairs News Release

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2013 - A senior Veterans Affairs Department official today outlined progress made by the Veterans Benefits Administration in reducing the backlog of veterans' disability compensation and pension claims by 36 percent since March, attributing the success to the combined impact of transformation initiatives and increased employee productivity.

Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary of veterans affairs for benefits, testified at a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

"We know there is much more work to be done to reach our goal of eliminating the disability claims backlog in 2015," Hickey said. "But I'm encouraged that the improved tools and processes we've put in place so far are having a real impact so that we may better serve our nation's veterans, their survivors and their families."

Hickey detailed the elements of the Veterans Benefits Administration's transformation plan, which includes retraining and reorganizing its workforce, streamlining business processes, and building and implementing new technology solutions. With each transformation milestone, she said, VBA is successfully moving away from a paper-bound, manual process to improve benefits delivery through paperless claims processing. She also noted that if full funding is received, mandatory overtime for VBA claims processors, which helped to bring down the backlog this year, will continue for much of 2014.

The undersecretary highlighted several accomplishments in the testimony:

-- Decreasing the pending inventory of claims by 22 percent;

-- Decreasing the number of claims in the backlog pending for more than 125 days by 36 percent;

-- Increasing claim-level accuracy from about 83 percent in 2011 to 90 percent today;

-- Increasing medical issue-level accuracy to about 97 percent today;

-- Completing processing of 99.9 percent of all claims that were pending for more than two years;

-- Completing processing of 97 percent of all claims that were pending for more than one year through the end of October;

-- Converting more than 360 million images of paper claims documents into a digital format for electronic processing; and

-- Establishing more than 3.2 million veteran, service member and family member accounts in eBenefits, the joint Defense Department/VA Web portal for accessing and tracking VA benefits.

Also, Hickey said, VA's Web-based, paperless electronic claims processing solution, the Veterans Benefits Management System, or VBMS, was deployed to all 56 of VA's regional benefits offices across the country, six months ahead of schedule. VBMS has also been fielded to the Appeals Management Center, the Records Management Center, the Board of Veterans' Appeals, VA's National Call Center, and all VA Medical Centers.

Currently, about 75 percent of the VBA's claims inventory is in digital form for electronic processing in VBMS --– a percentage that is growing daily, Hickey said, adding that VBMS will continue to add new features and capability.

Hickey thanked the committee members for their support, noting that VA will rely on their continued support for resourcing the information technology and automation advancements needed to meet the dDepartment's goal of eliminating the backlog in 2015. In fiscal year 2013 alone, VA provided more than $59 billion in compensation benefits to 4 million veterans and survivors, and more than $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 veterans and survivors.

VA officials urge veterans and separating service members who are planning to file a disability claim to do so by filing fully developed claims, known as FDCs, electronically through eBenefits. Veterans and separating service members who need help filing their claims can contact their local veteran service organization for assistance, officials said.

Under current law, veterans filing initial disability compensation claims as FDCs now through Aug. 5, 2015, may be eligible for up to one year of retroactive benefits.

Registered eBenefits users with a Premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.
 

Biographies:
Allison A. Hickey

Related Sites:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Information on VA Benefits



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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








November 2013 Veteran Unemployment Statistics from BLS



Colleagues and Fellow Veterans,

 

This past Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the November unemployment data.  Attached is our 'cheat sheet' summarizing the information.

 

Overall, the National unemployment rate decreased to 7.0%, and the Veteran unemployment rate decreased to 6.7%.  The Veteran unemployment rate is slightly higher than November of last year but lower than the November 2011 rate of 7.4%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2013 Unemployment

Cohort (% of total)

Rate

Change

Level

Change

Non-Vets

National

7.0%

-0.3%

10.9M

400,000

-

     >27 Weeks

 

 

4.1M

-

-

All Veterans (100%)

6.7%

-0.2%

724,000

-26,000

6.4%

     Male

6.5%

-0.2%




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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GAO Report VA Not Protecting Patients From Dr. with History of Substandard Care

Patients at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are not being adequately protected from doctors who have histories of providing substandard treatment, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

None of the four Veterans Affairs hospitals examined by the GAO complied with all of the requirements for peer review of patient care that results in a bad outcome, which could include patient deaths.

Cases that warranted possible disciplinary action also were not always followed up on properly, according to the report.

The Veterans Health Administration has procedures in place to ensure quick reviews in cases that have bad outcomes.

Those can range from a confidential review by senior doctors to more formal investigations that can lead to discipline.

Among the standards the hospitals failed to meet were timely completion of the reviews and development of clear triggers that would signal the need for more in-depth investigation of the patient's care, according to GAO.

"Failure of VAMCs (Veterans Affairs medical centers) to adhere to the protected peer review policy elements may result in missed opportunities to identify providers who pose a risk to patient safety," GAO concluded.

"VHA cannot provide reasonable assurance that VAMCs are using the peer review triggers as intended, as a risk assessment tool. This weakens VAMC's ability to ensure they are identifying providers that are unable to deliver safe, quality patient care," GAO said.

Investigations by VA's inspector general and media reports have documented at least 21 preventable deaths and a series of sanitary and safety lapses at VA hospitals.

Recent reports have linked poor patient care, maintenance issues and unsanitary practices to at least six preventable deaths in Columbia, S.C., five in Pittsburgh, four in Atlanta, and three each in Memphis and Augusta, Ga.

There are three levels of review after an adverse incident at a VA hospital. The most informal is peer review in which experienced medical providers examine the treatment a patient received to determine whether it was appropriate.

That process is considered "protected," meaning it is confidential and the results cannot be used in disciplinary proceedings.

The other two levels examine the doctor's competence and determine whether the adverse outcome is due to misconduct. They are not protected, and the results can be used to discipline the health care provider.

If an investigation in a protected review uncovers evidence that the doctor or dentist's actions put patients at risk, the case can be forwarded to the higher level of unprotected examination. There are supposed to be clear triggers to make that determination.

The initial review must be completed within 45 days under VA policies. If it is determined the case should have been handled differently, it is supposed to be sent to a higher-level panel, which is supposed to make a final determination within 120 days.

Other VA policies require cases in which patient care or doctor competence are questioned to be sent to an unprotected review, and that each hospital develop clear triggers that would flag a case for further investigation.

But when GAO studied the peer review processes at VA hospitals in Dallas, Nashville, Seattle and Augusta, Maine, it found none met all four requirements.

Only one hospital completed all initial reviews within the required 45 days. It also completed final reviews within the 120-day deadline in 97 percent of the cases.

Two other veterans' hospitals met the 45-day deadline less than 80 percent of the time. Final reviews at those two hospitals were done within the required 120 days in 89 percent of the cases.

The last hospital could not be assessed because its records were incomplete.

The hospitals were not identified by name.

All four hospitals did have standards to trigger a higher level of review if the quality of care or doctor competence was questioned.

Three of them appropriately sent questioned cases for further examination between 96 and 100 percent of the time.

But the same hospital that had the sloppy records sent only 79 percent of the cases that should have been given more scrutiny to a higher level of review.

VA officials generally agreed with the GAO findings and said the agency plans to implement the recommended changes.

###

 

Curt Cashour

House Committee on Veterans' Affairs




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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


 


 

The blessings of freedom and justice, opportunity and prosperity, so dear to all Americans, were not gained without sacrifice, nor preserved without purpose.

 

These blessings are at the heart of our American celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday that acknowledges both our colonial roots and the beneficence of the Almighty.  Vital in that history was the sharing of the harvest by American Indians, enabling the preservation of our early settlers during those first winters in the New World.  Sharing one's blessings and giving thanks for the bounties of the harvest, long a part of Native American culture, became part of our American Thanksgiving celebration, as well.  This cherished tradition endured and flourished as our Nation grew and prospered. 

 

Of this rich, new land, Thomas Jefferson once proclaimed to fellow Virginian, James Monroe, "My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!" [Letter, June 17, 1785]

 

The principles and values that define us as Americans found their origins in Jefferson's time and have been sustained since by the vigilance and valor of generation after generation of men and women who, in both peace and war, have safeguarded our way of life.  At the Department of Veterans Affairs, caring for those who, in President Abraham Lincoln's words, "have borne the battle" remains our noble mission.

 

President Lincoln further established the last Thursday of November as a national "day of Thanksgiving" for the benevolence and bounty that has been given to the American people.  On this uniquely American holiday, let us remember our good fortune at living in a land of plenty—safe, secure, and free from tyranny and oppression.

 

Another courageous generation of young Americans serves today as a force for good in some of the most remote and unforgiving places in the world.  Many will observe Thanksgiving and the upcoming Holiday Season without the warmth and companionship of families and friends.  Their missions are difficult and dangerous, and they perform them without hesitation.  In this season of Thanksgiving, let us pray for their well-being and safe return.  As we gather at our own tables on November 28th, let us not only give thanks for the blessings in our own lives, but give thanks for the men and women who now serve, and for those who have served on Thanksgivings past, ensuring for us and future generations of Americans the "precious blessing" of liberty.

 

"Happy Thanksgiving" to all our Veterans and their families, to the Survivors of the Fallen, and to my VA colleagues across our Department, who serve them so faithfully.  May God continue to bless this great and wonderful country of ours. 

-- Eric K. Shinseki

 

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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Saturday, November 23, 2013

VA Call Center Marketing Scam Alert

FRAUD ALERT: Veterans should be aware of a marketing scam targeting callers trying to reach the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Call Center or GI Bill Call Center. A marketing company has established two fraudulent numbers that differ from the two official VA call center numbers by one digit. If the fraudulent number is dialed by mistake, the answering party will offer a gift card and try to obtain personal and financial information, including credit card information, from the caller. The answering party may even transfer the caller to the VA after the caller's information is obtained. Note that VA never asks for credit card information during a telephone exchange. The numbers to be avoided are: 800-872-1000 (the VA National Call Center number is 800-827-1000) 888-442-4511 (the VA GI Bill Call Center number is 888-442-4551) VA has notified law enforcement authorities to address this situation, and will provide additional information and guidance as necessary.

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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Thursday, November 21, 2013

VA announces 24 percent drop in Veterans Homelessness

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that a new national report shows a 24 percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans since 2010.

 

The report also showed an 8 percent reduction between January 2012 and January 2013. The decline keeps the Obama administration on track to meet the goal of ending Veterans' homelessness in 2015.

 

"We are on the right track in the fight to end homelessness among Veterans.  While this trend is encouraging news, we know that there is more work to do," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "As President Obama said, we're not going to rest until every Veteran who has fought for America has a home in America.  The results in the latest report are a credit to the effort given by our dedicated staff, and our federal, state, and community partners who are committed to ending Veterans' homelessness."

 

"We're making real and significant progress to reduce homelessness in this country and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works," said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.  "If we're going to end homelessness as we know it, we need a continued bipartisan commitment from Congress to break the cycle trapping our most vulnerable citizens, especially our Veterans, between living in a shelter or a life on the streets.  I understand these are tough budget times but these are proven strategies that are making a real difference.  We simply can't balance our budget on the backs of those living on the margins."

 

The 2013 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, prepared by HUD, estimates there were 57,849 homeless Veterans on a single night in January in the United States, an 8 percent decline since 2012 and a 24 percent decline since 2010. 

 

VA has made ending Veterans' homelessness by the end of 2015 a top priority, undertaking an unprecedented campaign to dramatically increase awareness of VA services for homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk of becoming homeless.  While the number of homeless people in the United States dropped by 4 percent since 2012, according to the 2013 report, Veterans' homelessness has shown a more robust decline.  During a period of prolonged economic recovery, the Obama Administration has been able to reduce the number of homeless Veterans by 24 percent, breaking previous patterns of increased homelessness during difficult economies.

 

Earlier this year, HUD and VA also announced the award of nearly $70 million of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing grants to further assist in addressing the issue of Veterans' homelessness.  The program combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.  Since 2008, a total of 58,140 vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless Veterans are currently in homes of their own because of the joint HUD-VA program.

 

One of the tools VA uses in its systematic approach to prevent and end Veterans' homelessness is the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant program.  In July, VA announced the award of nearly $300 million in grants to 319 community agencies to help approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families.

 

More recently, VA has announced $8.8 million in grants for 164 projects to acquire vans for homeless providers and to rehabilitate housing, plus $4.9 million in grants for 25 community-based projects to enhance services for Veterans.

 

The grants promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families.  The grants can have an immediate impact, helping lift Veterans out of homelessness or providing aid in emergencies that put Veterans and their families at risk of homelessness. 

 

More information about VA's homeless programs is available atwww.va.gov/homeless.  Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online atwww.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.




--


 

 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Friday, November 15, 2013

VA Offers Dental Insurance Program


 

WASHINGTON (Nov. 15, 2013) – VA is partnering with Delta Dental and MetLife to allow eligible Veterans, plus family members receiving care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA), to purchase affordable dental insurance beginning Nov. 15, VA officials announced today.  

 

"VA continues to explore innovative ways to help Veterans get access to the care and services they have earned and deserve," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "This new dental program is another example of VA creating partnerships with the private sector to deliver a range of high-quality care at an affordable cost, for our Nation's Veterans."

 

More than 8 million Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care can choose to purchase one of the offered dental plans.  This three-year pilot has been designed for Veterans with no dental coverage, or those eligible for VA dental care who would like to purchase additional coverage.  Participation will not affect entitlement to VA dental services and treatment. 

 

There are no eligibility limitations based on service-connected disability rating or enrollment priority assignment.  People interested in participating may complete an application online through either Delta Dental, www.deltadentalvadip.org, or MetLife, www.metlife.com/vadip beginning Nov. 15.  Coverage for this new dental insurance will begin Jan. 1, 2014, and will be available throughout the United States and its territories. 

 

Also eligible for the new benefits are nearly 400,000 spouses and dependent children who are reimbursed for most medical expenses under VA's CHAMPVA program.  Generally, CHAMPVA participants are spouses, survivors or dependent children of Veterans officially rated as "permanently and totally" disabled by a service-connected condition.

 

Dental services under the new program vary by plan and include diagnostic, preventive, surgical, emergency and endodontic/restorative treatment.  Enrollment in the VA Dental Insurance Plan (VADIP) is voluntary.  Participants are responsible for all premiums, which range from $8.65 to $52.90 per month for individual plans.  Copayments and other charges may apply.

 

Historically VA's free dental services have gone to Veterans with dental problems connected to a medical condition that's officially certified as "service connected."  Free dental services will continue for those Veterans. 

 

For more information on VADIP, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vadip, or contact Delta Dental at 1-855-370-3303 or MetLife at 1-888-310-1681.

Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system can apply at any time by visiting www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility.

 

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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








Monday, November 11, 2013

Re: We Thank You


VFW Home VFW

Veterans Day 2013

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--


 

 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn








50 Years Ago Today

Veterans Day, 1963.
The Commander in Chief and his son, with the Commandant of the Marine Corps



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 Sean Eagan


 Life Member VFW NY Post 53
 American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn