Newsletter

June 2016

Vets Views

Page 3 

 

Retirement Services Officers (RSOs)

Do you have questions on benefits, SBP, Retiree Appreciation Days or anything else retirement-related? Then contact the RSO for your area or go to the Army Retirement Services website http://www.armyg1.army.mil/retire (Note: That’s the number 1 after the g).

Sister Service Retiree Publications

Air Force Afterburner: http://www.retirees.af.mil/afterburner/

Coast Guard Evening Colors: http://www.uscg.mil/ppc/retnews/

Marine Corps Semper Fi: https://www.manpower.usmc.mil, then click on “Semper Fidelis Online” under “News and Features” Navy Shift Colors: http://www.npc.navy.mil/ReferenceLibrary/Publications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM VA SECRETARY ROBERT A. MCDONALD

On Monday, I made some remarks on how we’re working to improve Veterans' satisfaction with the care they receive from VA. It was never my intention to suggest that I don't take our mission of serving Veterans very seriously.

In fact, improving access to care is my number one priority and the priority I have set for the entire department. For the last two years, the huge majority of VA employees have worked tirelessly to improve the timeliness of the care and benefits we provide to Veterans.

As I've told Veterans Service Organizations, Members of Congress, and myriad other groups of Veterans stakeholders, our goal is to ensure VA becomes the Number 1 customer-service organization in government.

To do that, we are following many of the best practices of private sector health care providers and exceptional customer-service organizations.

At VA we take our mission of caring for those who "shall have borne the battle" very seriously; we have the best and most noble mission in government.

If my comments Monday led any Veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don't take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we approach the Memorial Day holiday and pay tribute to the sacrifices of courageous men and women who placed the interests of others above their own, we at the VA remain focused on our mission to care for those who bravely served our Nation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 31, 2016

VA Launches Veterans Legacy Program

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launch of the Veterans Legacy Program to memorialize Veterans’ service and sacrifice through public educational programming. The program uses the rich resources found throughout VA national cemeteries, Soldiers’ lots and monument sites. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced the program yesterday during a Memorial Day ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

“The Veterans Legacy Program is meant to bring to life the stories of Veterans buried in VA national cemeteries through lesson plans, interactive maps and video vignettes,” said Secretary McDonald. “Behind every marker is a story—a story of what it meant to be a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman at a particular moment in time. Our goal is to ensure that our nation does not forget their stories and their sacrifice.”

Using online educational products such as lesson plans, interactive maps and short video vignettes, VA, through the Veterans Legacy Program, will engage the general public, students and educators. VA launched this initiative earlier this year at two pilot sites: Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina and Riverside National Cemetery in California. Over the next several years, online educational products and programs will be developed for all VA national cemeteries.

VA has also formed a partnership with the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to co-sponsor a “Teachers Institute,” a workshop for educators who will conduct research at VA and ABMC cemeteries. Information about the program may be found at www.cem.va.gov/cem/legacy/.

More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s 133 national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve, and maintain 100 Veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam and Saipan. For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service. In 2015, VA honored more than 353,000 Veterans and their loved ones with memorial benefits in national, state, tribal and private cemeteries.

Information on VA burial benefits is available from local VA national cemetery offices at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000. For more information about the history of VA national cemeteries, visit www.cem.va.gov/history.

Blogs about the Veterans Legacy Program may be found at: www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26511/va-launches-veterans-legacy-program/ and www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/28031/veterans-stories-not-just-stories-americas-history/.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 1, 2016

VA Secretary Provides Relief for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has granted equitable relief to more than 24,000 Veterans following a national review of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) medical examinations conducted in connection with disability compensation claims processed between 2007 and 2015.

This action by the Secretary allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer new TBI examinations to Veterans whose initial examination for TBI was not conducted by one of four designated medical specialists and provides them with the opportunity to have their claims

reprocessed. Equitable relief is a unique legal remedy that allows the Secretary to correct an injustice to a claimant where VA is not otherwise authorized to do so within the scope of the law.

“Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature injury in Veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA is proud to be an organization that sets the bar high for supporting these, and all, Veterans,” said Secretary McDonald. “Providing support for Veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities.”

To ensure that TBI is properly evaluated for disability compensation purposes, VA developed a policy in 2007 requiring that one of four specialists – a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist – complete TBI exams when VA does not have a prior diagnosis.

Since 2007, medicine around TBI has been a rapidly evolving science. VA designated particular specialists to conduct initial TBI exams because they have the most experience with the symptoms and effects of TBI. As more research became available, VA issued a number of guidance documents that may have created confusion regarding the policy. VA has confirmed that its TBI policy guidance is now clear and being followed.