Arizona State Council VVA Blog

Serving Vietnam Veterans in Arizona

Vietnam Veterans of America to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Generational Effects of the Agent Orange/Dioxin

PRESS RELEASE

Vietnam Veterans of America

VVA Chapter 1093, Cochise

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 25th 2016 No. 4-10 Contact:

Press Release Bill Colberg

vvavso@cox.net

520-249-8898

Vietnam Veterans of America to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Generational Effects of the Agent Orange/Dioxin

Chapter 1093 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Sierra Vista AZ will hold a Town Hall meeting to address the birth defects, diseases, and learning disabilities affecting the children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans. The forum will be held on Saturday May14th at 10:00AM, at the Sierra Vista United Methodist Church at 5225 St Andrews Dr.

“We encourage all veterans with children and/or grandchildren suffering from illnesses, learning disabilities, or physical disabilities to come share their stories. We will explore issues surrounding Agent Orange exposure, including scientific information, health effects, and methods for educating the public and elected representatives about the issues of Vietnam veterans, their children, and their families, said Bill Colberg Past President, Veterans Service Officer.

The goal of the town hall meeting is to bring attention to the hidden cost of our service and to encourage the government to create and maintain a registry of these birth defects as well as assist our doctors in finding ways to diagnose and treat these birth defects. Veterans of all wars are subjected to many contaminates and most were not aware of what was being used or what effects most would have on their health.

Said Colberg, “Our children and grandchildren are innocent victims of our war and need the help of our government to cope with these problems. We worry, who will be there to take care of them when we are gone? „”

Vietnam Veterans of America (WA) is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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Senators Isakson and Blumenthal Unveil Groundbreaking Veterans Legislation to Change Culture at VA

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Senators Isakson and Blumenthal Unveil Groundbreaking Veterans Legislation to Change Culture at VA

Vietnam Veterans of America – Legislative Update
April 29, 2016
The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on Thursday April 28, 2016 introduced the Veterans First Act legislation. This bipartisan comprehensive legislation includes language important to Vietnam Veterans of America, which is to extend the Caregivers benefits to Vietnam Veterans and under Subtitle I Research on Toxic Exposure, S.901 the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. The legislation will now go to the House Veterans Affairs Committee and once both committees agree on the legislation, the bill will go to both houses for a floor vote and then to the President for signature.

United States Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs – http://www.veterans.senate.gov/newsroom/majority-news

Isakson, Blumenthal Unveil Groundbreaking Veterans Legislation to Change Culture at VA
Bipartisan bill will hold bad actors at the VA accountable, prohibit bonuses for poor performers, protect whistleblowers
Thursday, April 28, 2016

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, respectively, today announced the Veterans First Act to begin to change the culture at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill will give the VA the tools to fire bad actors, will prohibit bonuses for employees accused of wrongdoing, and will institute protections for whistleblowers.
Isakson and Blumenthal said the bill is designed to demand a higher level of accountability from the 335,000-employee department in the wake of numerous scandals over the past few years at VA facilities across the country involving serious mismanagement, misconduct and mistreatment of veterans.
The Veterans First Act also includes numerous provisions to improve services for our nation’s veterans, including expanding a VA program that allows seriously-injured veterans to receive care in their own homes, enhancing programs for veterans’ mental health care, and beginning to address the VA’s massive backlog of veteran disability claims appeals.
“When people look back at what Congress accomplished this year, the Veterans First Act will be at the top of the list,” said Isakson. “The numerous scandals at the VA and the outrageous examples of employee mismanagement and misconduct have got to stop. Our veterans deserve much better than this. Our bill will begin to change the culture of corruption at the VA by giving the VA the tools it needs to hold bad actors accountable. There are numerous other provisions in our bill that will improve services for our veterans. I urge my colleagues to put veterans first and send this bill to the president as soon as possible.”
“This bill assures that the nation keeps faith with veterans of all eras—fulfilling longstanding promises to veterans of new service and old,” said Blumenthal. “Accountability is vital to deter and discipline failure to deliver services that veterans need and deserve. As important as accountability are the sweeping and significant new services and programs provided to veterans of the post-9/11 era and earlier. This bill has specific significant steps to improve veterans’ health care, expand support for caregivers, stop the over-prescription of opioids, enhance education benefits for veterans and their families, and other important reforms and services. This measure is a true bipartisan and bicameral effort involving ideas from literally every member of our committee on both sides of the aisle. I hope for broad support.”
The Veterans First Act makes it easier for leadership at the VA to remove employees at all levels. It holds accountable all VA leaders, including political appointees, for managing the Department. It removes the Merit Systems Protection Board, which recently reversed the demotions of three senior executives at the VA, from the appeal process for executives at the department. The bill also prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing and includes numerous protections for whistleblowers.
Other notable provisions of the bill include the improvement and expansion of the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to provide all generations of veterans with the opportunity to receive care in their own homes, as well as the strengthening of the care veterans receive in their communities, through allowing the VA to enter into provider agreements with community doctors and ensuring those provider get paid promptly by making the VA the primary payer for services rendered under the Veterans Choice Program.
Building upon the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs work throughout this legislative session, the Veterans First Act specifically:
Changes the culture at the VA by improving accountability to make it easier for the VA Secretary to remove bad actors at all levels of the department.
Expands the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to all generations of veterans.
Strengthens the Veterans Choice program by establishing prompt payment standards and streamlining the requirements for community medical providers to enter into agreements with the VA.
Enhances education benefits for veterans, surviving spouses and children, and allows thousands of mobilized Reservists to earn GI Bill eligibility.
Addresses the crisis of opioid over-prescription among veterans.
Enhances research on the potential health effects from toxic exposure to veterans and their descendants.
Strengthens programs to combat veteran homelessness.
Improves the disability claims and appeals process by requiring the VA to launch a pilot program that will cut down the massive backlog of appeals awaiting action.
Related Files:
Text of bill
Full bill one pager
Accountability one pager
Health one pager
Benefits one pager
Education one pager

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The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.


For Immediate Release: IOM Releases Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2014: Bladder Cancer, Hypothroidism, Parkinson-like Symptoms, Hypertension, and Stroke Upgraded; Spina Bifida in offspring Downgraded 

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 10, 2016   No. 16-9
Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, #146

 

IOM Releases Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2014:

Bladder Cancer, Hypothroidism, Parkinson-like Symptoms, Hypertension, and Stroke Upgraded; Spina Bifida in offspring Downgraded

 

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, the Institute of Medicine released Veterans and Agent Orange Update 2014, the tenth biennial evaluation of relevant scientific studies–published between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2014–on Agent Orange and other herbicides used during military operations in Vietnam.

 

“Vietnam Veterans of America thanks the IOM’s Veterans and Agent Orange Committee for upgrading the status of Bladder cancer and hypothyroidism to the Limited/Suggestive Category of Association; for clarifying that individuals with Parkinson-like symptoms without other known etiology should be included in the presumption for Parkinson’s disease; and for firmly supporting the VAO’s prior decisions–but not yet recognized by VA as presumptive conditions:hypertension and stroke,” said VVA National President John Rowan.

 

“VVA calls on President Obama and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to immediately initiate the process for adding all of these conditions to the service-connected, presumptive list for those who served in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Southeast Asia theater of operations,” said Rowan.

 

“Most disturbing,” noted Rowan, “is the rationale behind the Committee’s recommendation to downgrade Spina Bifida to Inadequate or Insufficient Evidence. As stated on Page 10 of Update 2014, ‘since Update 1996, no new analyses of birth defect data, finding increased rates of spina bifida among children of men exposed to the chemicals of interest have become available.’ IOM, in previous updates, has repeatedly called for the VA to conduct research on this issue. The VA has not spent a dime on this vitally needed research.”

 

Of the more than 7,600 abstracts of scientific and medical articles related to Agent Orange, Agent Blue, and Agent White, none of these studies were funded by VA,” said Rowan. “It is time for Congress to demand that the VA do their job by passing the Toxic Exposures Act (S. 901/ HR 1769) before Memorial Day.”

 

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

 

 


Health Care Applications Receive Additional Year to Enroll

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

March 7 2016 

 

Veterans With Incomplete Health Care Applications Receive Additional Year to Enroll

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it will extend the healthcare enrollment application period for one year to approximately 545,000 living Veterans that have pending incomplete enrollment applications.

“Fixing the Veterans enrollment system is a top priority for VA. This is an important step forward to regain Veterans’ trust and improve access to care as we continue the MyVA Transformation,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do, but this is a big step in the right direction to restore the data integrity of our enrollment system,” Gibson said.

The National Enrollment Improvement team conducted a detailed analysis of the pending applications in VA’s enrollment system and identified approximately 545,000 living Veterans whose applications were incomplete and in a pending status.  The team also validated that approximately 288,000 pending enrollment system records were for deceased Veterans. VA has segregated deceased records from living Veteran records and, as part of the Veteran Enrollment Rework Project (VERP), will review each incomplete application to determine if any should have been enrolled in VA health care.

VA is required by law to provide notice to Veterans of incomplete applications. The VERP team could not verify that VA’s mailing system used to contact Veterans about their incomplete applications was able to notify the 545,000 Veterans identified above. 

VA will contact living Veterans to confirm their continued interest in enrolling in VA health care and ask them for the necessary information to complete their application.  Veterans will have one year from the notice to provide this information.  After a year, VA will close the record.  A Veteran may reapply for enrollment at any time.

As  Veterans choose to enroll, VA offers an enchancement to their enrollment experience through “Welcome to VA” (W2VA).  Veterans enrolled since July 1, 2015 have received a personal introduction to VA health care services, programs and resources to help them become more familiar with VA’s services. In addition, VA sends each new enrollee an introductory letter and personalized handbook in the mail. W2VA enhances communication by reaching out to newly enrolled Veterans through personal phone calls upon enrollment, providing assistance with health care inquiries and assisting with their initial appointment at their preferred VA healthcare facility.

Veterans to flock to Stand Down on Friday in Flagstaff

There are some loose ends, such as not enough electrical cords and the need for donations of warm jackets and rolls of toilet paper.

But preparations are on track for the third annual High Country Stand Down on Friday at the Flagstaff Armory.

via Veterans to flock to Stand Down on Friday in Flagstaff.