Arizona State Council VVA Blog

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VVA Applauds Roe, Walz, Veterans Community for Support of Forever GI Bill

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Vietnam Veterans of America

IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 13, 2017  No. 17-26Contact: Mokie Porter301-996-0901; 301-585-4000, Ext. 146VVA Applauds Roe, Walz, Veterans Community for Support of Forever GI Bill (Washington, DC) –“The Forever GI bill will make the GI Bill a lifetime benefit, so that veterans can go to school when it’s right for them — not when the government tells them to,” said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “Vietnam Veterans of America has long advocated for improvements to the GI Bill to allow veterans greater flexibility in accessing their educational and vocational benefits. We are glad that veterans will no longer be forfeiting their educational benefits because their timing didn’t fit the government’s random guidelines.” The removal of the arbitrary, 15-year time limit will benefit veterans on two ends of the employment continuum: ·

In many cases, veterans are unable to use the GI Bill because health and family have to be their main priorities when they transition out of the service. ·

For others, a successful transition may mean beginning a career as soon as they leave the service. However, if unforeseen economic and technological changes end that career, a veteran would under current rules have lost their eligibility to retrain under the GI Bill. “We are thankful to Chairman Roe, Ranking Member Walz, and the members of the ‘Forever GI Bill Coalition’ for fighting with us to ensure that future veterans have an improved, lifetime GI Bill,” said Rowan. “We will continue to fight for those left ineligible for the GI Bill benefits due to unfair administrative discharges.” Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) 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.”

 


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.


Not going away: Vets are still paying close attention to Veterans Affairs scandal despite lack of media coverage | WashingtonExaminer.com

BY T. BECKET ADAMS | JULY 6, 2014 | 1:15 PM

The nation’s leading media outlets may have moved on from covering the many problems that continue to plague the Department of Veterans Affairs, but U.S. vets are still following the scandal closely, according to a recent Gallup report.

via Not going away: Vets are still paying close attention to Veterans Affairs scandal despite lack of media coverage | WashingtonExaminer.com.

media coverage


Remember the Veterans Health Care Crisis? – NationalJournal.com

Having so far failed to complete reform legislation intended to ensure veterans don’t die waiting for health care, lawmakers return facing significant unfinished business to show voters action before they go home to campaign in August.

The House and Senate are under the gun to show a response to reports that veterans have been left languishing for months on secret waiting lists for medical treatment, or never even getting onto such lists. Veterans are a popular constituency that neither party can afford to ignore, so the pressure is on to deliver something lawmakers can campaign on, before election season heats up.

via Remember the Veterans Health Care Crisis? – NationalJournal.com.

Senators Reach Framework To Pay For Veterans’ Care Outside System | KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Senators from both parties have reached an agreement on legislation that would expand the ability of veterans to seek government-paid medical care outside the network of the VA medical system.

via Senators Reach Framework To Pay For Veterans’ Care Outside System | KNAU Arizona Public Radio.