Disability Travel Made Easier
click on image for full article on PVA.org
Nov. 26. 2018 I-TEAM UPDATE:Paralyzed veteran wins big against DOT to ensure airlines track wheelchair damage click on WRDW Airline Travel With Disabilities Airline Travel With Disabilities
News Oct.28 2018 Paralyzed Veterans Score Victory in Wheelchair Case
After Legal and Public Pressure, and Congressional Action, Government Agrees to Implement Much Needed Protections for Disabled Air Travelers https://www.pva.org/about-us/recent-news/paralyzed-veterans-score-victory-in-wheelchair-cas for full article
From news releases to feature stories and public service announcements/ videos, Paralyzed Veterans of America is dedicated to making the organization’s news available to you in today’s communications environment.
Handicap Accessible House In Augusta: Please contact number on flier only!
September 7, 2017
BE SAFE OUT THERE DURING THE HURRICANES
NATIONAL PVA: Disaster Relief Requests
Paralyzed veterans and their families who suffer demonstrable losses after a natural disaster can file for financial assistance through PVA’s Disaster Relief Fund. The fund offers a grant of up to $1500 to any veteran or veteran’s family and was established to give recovering families a jumpstart toward the road to recovery, whether that means replacing lost food and clothing, repairing a damaged roof, or restoring a flooded basement back to livable conditions.
To assist requesters in the distribution of relief funds, they must comply with the following accountability procedures:
- Funds will only be provided to PVA members.
- A maximum of $1,500 per individual or family will be granted. Each application must be evaluated for need. Maximum disbursements will not be made in all cases.
- Funds may be used for transportation, temporary shelter, food, modifications for accessibility, prosthetic appliances, and medical supplies. The funds will not be provided if other assistance has been provided to pay for the items in the request (insurance, FEMA, etc.). Funds will also not be approved to cleanup, fix, or replace damages not related to the veteran’s primary dwelling.
Applications can be received by the PVA Chapter or the National Service Office. Once an application is received it is to be reviewed by the Chapter President or designee, and the National Service Officer. All applications require the approval of the Chapter President or designee, and the National Service Officer (NSO).
After approval from the Chapter and National Service Office the application is to be faxed to the Associate Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Department for final approval. (Include all estimates and receipts). Disbursements exceeding $1,000 must have verification that the assistance requested is valid. (Inspection by PVA, etc.)
In cases where the NSO and chapter disagree regarding approval, or either is not available the application will be faxed to the attention of the Associate Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Department for final decision.
All original documentation will be forwarded to the AED of Veterans Benefits for accounting and review purposes. Copies of applications are to be maintained in the PVA Chapter offices.
Click on the following link for a copy of the Disaster Relief Fund Application:
August 3, 2017
Statement about Beneficiary Travel Backlog of Claims: AUGUSTA VAMC
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Aug. 3, 2017) – Due to staffing and other process issues, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is experiencing a heavy backlog of beneficiary travel claims that are taking longer to process than expected. VA Augusta plans to have all backlogged vouchers resolved and paid by Aug. 31. After Aug. 31, vouchers will be paid within a planned 10-15 day timespan for electronic funds transfer. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused our Veterans, and appreciate their patience as we work to improve this process.
Jason S. Tudor
Public Affairs Officer & Congressional Liaison (US Air Force, ret.)
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
Augusta, Georgia | (706) 733-0188 ext 1733/7519
Facebook.com/VAAugusta | @VAAugusta | www.augusta.va.com
Military Day at Training Camp with the ATLANTA FALCONS! Sunday, August 6th, 2017
CLICK HERE for full details
August 2, 2017
Paralyzed Veteran of America Files Suit Against DOT on Behalf of Disabled Air Travel Passengers
August 1, 2017
ATLANTA VAMC INFORMATION:
The FEE SERVICES DEPT is no longer located at the Atlanta VAMC.
Please click on link: Decatur Fee Basis flyer AUG2017
for full details.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 26, 2017
President Donald J. Trump Proclaims July 27, 2017, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
NATIONAL KOREAN WAR VETERANS ARMISTICE DAY, 2017
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we honor the patriots who defended the Korean Peninsula against the spread of Communism in what became the first major conflict of the Cold War. We remember those who laid down their lives in defense of liberty, in a land far from home, and we vow to preserve their legacy.
Situated between World War II and the Vietnam War, the Korean War has often been labeled as the “Forgotten War,” despite its having claimed the lives of more than 36,000 Americans. The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea. Shortly thereafter, American troops arrived and pushed back the North Koreans. For 3 years, alongside fifteen allies and partners, we fought an unrelenting war of attrition. Through diplomatic engagements led by President Eisenhower, Americans secured peace on the Korean Peninsula. On July 27, 1953, North Korea, China, and the United Nations signed an armistice suspending all hostilities.
While the armistice stopped the active fighting in the region, North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons programs continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies and partners. At this moment, more than 28,000 American troops maintain a strong allied presence along the 38th parallel, which separates North and South Korea. These troops, and the rest of our Armed Forces, help me fulfill my unwavering commitment as President to protecting Americans at home and to steadfastly defending our allies abroad.
As we reflect upon our values and pause to remember all those who fight and sacrifice to uphold them, we will never forget our Korean War veterans whose valiant efforts halted the spread of Communism and advanced the cause of freedom.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2017, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor and give thanks to our distinguished Korean War veterans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
DONALD J. TRUMP
June 23, 2017 PRESS RELEASE:
Paralyzed Veterans of America Applauds Passage of VA Accountability Bill
Long-awaited legislation reduces burden of proof to terminate VA employees
“Today, President Trump signed one of the most important pieces of legislation of his presidency. The Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act finally takes the issue of accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs out of the abstract by giving the VA Secretary actionable authority to make tangible changes. Now, poor performing VA employees will not be able to game the system and collect paychecks for months, or even years, after formal action to remove them has been taken. Whistleblowers will no longer have bullseyes on their backs after rightly reporting fraud, waste, abuse and other wrongs in the agency. VA employees who undeservedly receive bonuses, awards and relocation allowances will not be allowed to engage in previously undiscovered misconduct and keep those monies. More importantly, the VA Secretary will have enhanced authority to hire the best leaders for key positions in the VA healthcare system. The public, veterans and VA employees who work hard to make a difference in the lives of the veterans they serve can now be optimistic about the future of the VA. Today, that optimism is sustained by the steady and lasting improvements that this new legislation is intended to catalyze.” – Executive Director Sherman Gillums, Jr.
Click on link to right, to read full release: AccountabilityPassage2017-PR-FINAL
Hurricane season is upon us
06/12/2017 08:00 AM EDT
Hurricane season began June 1 and lasts through November 30
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Tracey Lynn Shifflett
March 10, 2017 202-416-7670
Paralyzed Veterans of America Expresses Grave Concerns for Disabled Air Travelers
DOT Delays Requirement of US Airlines to Report Wheelchair and Scooter Enplanements and Damage
WASHINGTON, DC—This week, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) members have been on Capitol Hill to discuss with Congressional members the organization’s 2017 legislative priorities. This advocacy effort included educating lawmakers on the damage that people with disabilities and their wheelchairs encounter on a regular basis during air travel. Paralyzed Veterans’ broader efforts on this initiative were challenged, as the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it will delay by one year the implementation of a rule that would require large domestic airlines to track and report information about wheelchairs and scooters.
“Paralyzed Veterans of America has grave concerns over the delay of this key component to providing disabled travelers with basic civil rights,” said Executive Director Sherman Gillums. “Our members are tired of incurring damage to their persons and wheelchairs when they travel by air, only to be caught in a web of inconvenient reporting and bureaucracy that results in little to no restitution. The information this new reporting will track plays an important role in protecting the health of our members and identifying additional training needed across the air travel industry.”
As originally published, airlines would be required to provide DOT with information on the total number of wheelchairs and scooters they enplane on a monthly basis for flights taking place on or after January 1, 2018. Airlines would also need to report how many of those wheelchairs and scooters were “mishandled.” Paralyzed Veterans originally submitted comments in response to DOT’s proposed rule on this issue in 2011.
DOT took this action in response to a request from airlines to delay the implementation of the regulation in the spirit of a memorandum issued by the White House Chief of Staff on January 20. In part, that memorandum directed agencies to delay for 60 days the effective date of published regulations that had not yet taken effect.
“This memorandum was not specifically directed at this type of final rule, which had already been under consideration for several years, and became effective in December 2016,” continued Gillums. “At the very least, DOT should have formally requested comments from all stakeholders prior to granting this extension that only further delays the collection of this critical information.”
Paralyzed Veterans will continue to raise our concerns about DOT’s actions on this and other regulatory matters impacting veterans with disabilities in air travel.
FISHING FOR FREEDOM (F4F) 2017
Click on image for flier with full details.
Contact Luis Roldan, Fishing for Freedom Chairman, email: Lrroldan06@aol.com
March 6, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leading Veterans Groups Release Independent Budget Recommendations for
FY 2018 Calling for 8 Percent Increase in Veterans Medical Care Funding
WASHINGTON, DC—DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) have released The Independent Budget (IB)
FY 2018 recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs, calling for an 8.3 percent increase in veterans medical care funding. The IB report includes detailed recommendations for funding levels to support programs, services and benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The report also includes recommendations for advance appropriations for medical care for FY 2019. The Administration has not yet released its budget request for FY 2018, which is normally presented the first week of February, but such a delay is not unusual in the first year of a new Administration.
Highlights from The Independent Budget report include the following recommendations:
- $88.9 billion in overall discretionary budget authority for VA, approximately a 10 percent increase over FY 2017;
- $76.9 billion for veterans medical care funding for FY 2018, a $5.9 billion, or 8.3 percent increase over FY 2017;
- $82.8 billion for veterans medical care for FY 2019 advance appropriations, a 7.6 percent increase over the IB’s FY 2018 recommendation;
- $3.1 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), a $278 million, or 9.7 percent increase over FY 2017;
- $2.5 billion for VA construction programs to repair, renovate, expand and replace VA’s aging infrastructure, a $1.5 billion increase over FY 2017;
- $713 million for medical and prosthetic research, a $38 million, or 5.6 percent increase over FY 2017, as well as an additional $75 million to support the Million Veteran Program.
The IB report warns of a potential funding crisis that could arise before the end of FY 2017, and will exist in FY 2018 if VA does not address the new community care demand it has fostered without necessary resources. Last year’s advance appropriation request for FY 2018 medical care, which was approved unchanged by Congress, remains woefully inadequate to meet the ever-increasing demand for services both inside and outside the VA health care system, a fact acknowledged by VA officials.
Additionally, the effects of sequestration and arbitrary budget caps are beginning to have a significant negative impact on VA’s ability to adequately provide veterans services and benefits, which would be further complicated if the hiring freeze is not lifted for all VA positions. The IBVSOs call on Congress to eliminate or provide exceptions to these measures to ensure that VA, and the veterans it serves, have access to the resources necessary to meet all their needs.
One budget area of grave concern to the veterans groups is the Major, Minor and State Home Construction programs that have growing backlogs of critical infrastructure projects. VA currently has more than 24 Major constructions projects that are either partially funded or funded through completion, but in which construction is incomplete. Of those, VA will need to invest more than $3.5 billion to complete them all. There is also a backlog of State Home Construction Grant priority group 1 requests that now tops $650 million, but only about $90 million is available in the current fiscal year to address them. Congress has made significant reforms to how VA’s construction programs will be managed, however without significant new investments, veterans will begin to lose access to critical medical and long term care services they have earned and deserve.
The IBVSOs are also focusing on addressing the backlogs of claims and appeals. Although pending claims for disability compensation have gone down significantly over the past four years, the claims backlog started creeping back up last year and the appeals backlog has grown alarmingly. The IBVSOs recommend an increase of $278 million for VBA to hire additional personnel to focus on the claims and appeals backlogs, as well as to improve delivery of vocational rehabilitation services. While continued emphasis on automation and reform are necessary, unless VBA is provided additional resources, veterans will continue to wait too long to get their earned benefits.
The IBVSOs also called for greater investment in VA’s medical and prosthetics programs, as well as supporting VA’s Million Veteran Program of longitudinal research. The new funding would be used to expand research on emerging conditions prevalent among newer veterans, as well as continue VA’s inquiries into chronic conditions of aging veterans from previous wartime periods, with focus on research into post-deployment mental health concerns, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicide; gender-specific health care needs of women veterans; and advancements in prosthetic systems to replace lost limbs or activate paralyzed nerves, muscles, and limbs. VA’s medical research programs are absolutely critical to delivering the highest quality of care, in the safest manner, which is vital to the health of our nation’s veterans.
For more than 30 years, the three Independent Budget co-authors have presented budget and policy recommendations to Congress and the Administration. These recommendations—which are supported by 27 other health, family, military, and veteran service organizations—are meant to inform Congress and the Administration of the needs of all veterans, and to offer substantive solutions to address the many health care and benefits challenges they face. This independently-developed budget serves as the veterans groups’ benchmark for properly funding the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure the timely delivery of quality health care and accurate and appropriate benefits.
To view the full budget report, please visit www.independentbudget.org.
February 17, 2017
Paralyzed Veterans of America Leader Recognized for Positive Impact on Veteran Advocacy
Executive Director Sherman Gillums, Jr. named among 100 most influential veterans
“Though different in their pursuits and contributions, the commonalities we found in the men and women listed as the HillVets 100 were their mission and purpose of giving back to those that have sacrificed so much for our nation.”
WASHINGTON, DC—Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) Executive Director Sherman Gillums, Jr. has been named among 100 of 2016’s most impactful leaders in veteran advocacy by HillVets. The HillVets 100 list annually highlights the most effective veterans, service members and supporters. HillVets compiles a list encompassing individuals from many diverse sectors and areas, including those in the arts, politics, business, philanthropy, and personal achievements.
Executive Director Gillums was recognized under the “Traditional Non-Profits” category, which honors some of the longest standing, non-profit supporters of the veteran community. Awardees were selected based on their continuous dedicated and committed efforts to bring veteran and service members’ interests to the forefront of national dialogue and ensured that the veterans’ issues remained prevalent in public discourse.
“I am humbled by this recognition and see it more as a testament to the great work carried out by my amazing staff and Paralyzed Veterans’ champions of the past who paved the way,” said Gillums, the first post-9/11 veteran to lead Paralyzed Veterans of America. “This award validates my commitment to fighting hard for the paralyzed veterans of this country and their caregivers as our nation continues to depend on our military for the preservation of our freedom and democracy—often at great personal sacrifice for many veterans.”
Other selectees for the HillVets 100 list include Congressman David Phillip “Phil” Roe, Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee; Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, Jr., who received the Medal of Honor on February 29, 2016; Robert “Bob” Joseph Dole, former United States Senator and United States Senate Majority Leader; and General Joseph Dunford Jr., whose military career spans 40 years with the United States Marine Corps, and includes serving as its 36th Commandant and currently as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest ranking military officer. HillVets is a professional network for veterans serving our nation again in the National Capitol region, and is mission is to transform the power and presence of veterans in government, policy, and politics. Learn more and view the complete Top 100 list at hillvets.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2017
Contact: Tracey Lynn Shifflett 202-416-7670
Paralyzed Veterans of America Looks to the Future with Confirmation of Dr. David Shulkin as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs
National President hopeful that background in health care will inform measured choices
WASHINGTON, DC—Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Al Kovach, Jr. today released this statement following the confirmation of former VA UnderSecretary of Health, Dr. David Shulkin, as the new VA Secretary:
“America’s veterans deserve the very best advocates at the VA, conscientious civil servants who have veterans’ best interests at heart, and those who are above political posturing and strong enough to withstand political pressure. Today’s confirmation of Dr. David Shulkin places the first non-veteran to lead the very lifeline to veterans’ healthcare and benefits—particularly within VA spinal cord injury/disease (SCI/D) centers. But it also places a doctor who is intimately familiar with the value and challenges of the VA healthcare system as it stands at the crossroad of private health care for veterans and veteran-centric care with Congressional oversight. Paralyzed Veterans of America is hopeful that Dr. Shulkin’s collaboration with our leadership over the last two years, conducted on behalf of our 18,000 members and the 60,000 veterans living with some form of SCI/D, will inform decisions that are truly a matter of choice for all veterans. We look forward to working with Dr. Shulkin on the future of veterans’ healthcare, and ensuring the voices of the most catastrophically injured veterans are heard above the political din.”
In remarks during the confirmation hearing, Dr. Shulkin assured Congress and stakeholders that VA “would not be privatized on [his] watch,” and that an integrated approach to healthcare is in veterans’ best interests.
Dr. Shulkin was confirmed as the VA Under Secretary of Health in June 2015, and has oversight of more than 1,700 VA healthcare sites across the United States. In this position, he has worked with Paralyzed Veterans’ leadership, and has been a guest speaker at numerous events to open the lines of communication about the priorities and needs of veterans receiving specialized care in the VA’s spinal cord injury centers.
Double click on link for full letter from Al Kovach, Jr.: Shulkin-Confirmation
January 31, 2017
VA STAFFING AND HIRING FREEZE UPDATE – PLEASE READ!
I am writing to you today on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America about the executive order signed by President Donald Trump that imposed a hiring freeze across the federal government. Given pre-existing understaffing across the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Spinal Cord Injury & Disorder (SCI/D) system of care, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) was initially concerned that a hiring freeze would further exacerbate issues with access to care and staff turnover. We are relieved to tell you that senior VA officials have stated the hiring freeze, as it turns out, will not affect clinical staff hiring.
To ensure our members continue to receive quality health care throughout the transition at VA, the Medical Services Team at the Paralyzed Veterans’ National office remains available to assist our members with any access to care or other barriers to receiving the appropriate level of care. We also strive to ensure our members have accurate and current information to make informed choices about their health care, beginning with these two questions:
When is the last time you had a comprehensive annual evaluation at a VA SCI/D Center?
Have you faced any challenges to gaining timely admittance to an SCI/D Center for acute care, an annual exam, inpatient rehabilitation, respite care, or surgery?
We realize that some of our members are inconvenienced by having to travel great distances for an annual exam or acute care, but here is what you need to know:
· SCI/D Primary Care Teams located at outpatient clinics (also referred to as “spokes”) are established to provide routine health care services that do not require the complex level of care offered at a SCI/D Center.
· For more serious, non-routine, or highly SCI/D-specific care or treatment, an SCI/D center is the best option. It is the only facility equipped to handle the complete gamut of care you will need.
As health care experts, we highly encourage you to seek medical treatment at a SCI/D Center for the following:
· Comprehensive Annual Examination
· Surgical and post-surgical care
· Pressure/Seat mapping
· Pressure Ulcer
· Renal (kidney stones/reoccurring UTI)
· Urodynamic studies
· Wheelchair assessments
· Chronic pain (unresolved)
As mentioned earlier, we do realize that not every member lives within close proximity of an SCI/D center, and the temptation will be to do what is most convenient rather than what is clinically recommended. That convenience can have severe consequences.
For instance, long-term irritation of the bladder wall increases the risk of bladder cancer. SCI/D veterans who experience frequent urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and irritation of the bladder brought on by catheterization are at an increased risk of bladder cancer. Screening (cystoscopy, CT scan of bladder and abdomen) must take place by experts within SCI/D Centers who are trained in the specialty care needs of SCI/D veterans.
The lack of specialized care can result in deterioration of an individual’s health, and lead to death. This is just one example among many where the choice you make largely determines the risk you are willing to take.
Contact a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s national health care team at MedicalServices@pva.org or 1-800-232-1782 for guidance. You can also contact your local Veterans Health and Benefits Specialists (NSO) to inform them of any barriers you are experiencing to health care at a SCI/D Center.
Lana McKenzie, RN, BSN, MBA, CCM, MHA
Associate Executive Director
Paralyzed Veterans of America
December 14, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2016
VA Study Confirms High Cure Rates With New Hepatitis C Drugs
Virus undetectable in high percentage of patients after treatment.
WASHINGTON – A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) database study shows that new drug regimens for hepatitis C have resulted in “remarkably high” cure rates among patients in VA’s national health care system.
Of the more than 17,000 Veterans in the study, all chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus at baseline, 75 percent to 93 percent had no detectable levels of the disease in their blood for 12 or more weeks after the end of treatment. The therapy regimens lasted 8 to 24 weeks, depending on patient characteristics.
“This promising news comes as VA is dedicating significant funds to help greater numbers of patients with hepatitis C,” said David Shulkin VA Under Secretary for Health. “In March, we announced our ability to fund care for all Veterans with hepatitis C for fiscal year 2016 regardless of the stage of the patient’s liver disease. VA has long led the country in screening for and treating hepatitis C. As of mid-September 2016 alone, the Department treated more than 100,000 Veterans infected with the virus. More than 68,000 of these patients had been treated with these new highly effective antivirals.”
The VA researchers analyzed data from four subgroups of patients infected with hepatitis C—genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4—and found that genotype 1 patients showed the highest cure rates and genotype 3 the lowest. Genotype 1 was by far the most common type of infection among the four subgroups.
The study group of more than 17,000 Veterans included more than 11,000 patients with confirmed or likely cirrhosis, a liver disease that can result from hepatitis C, among other causes. The study team found “surprisingly high” response rates of around 87 percent in this group.
The overall results were consistent with those from earlier clinical trials that led to FDA approval of the three new drug regimens in the study: sofosbuvir (SOF), ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF) and paritaprevir/ ritonavir/ ombitasvir and dasabuvir (PrOD).
The drugs, introduced in 2013 and 2014, have been credited with revolutionizing hepatitis C treatment, which means a cure is now in reach for the vast majority of patients infected with the virus. Previously, using earlier drug regimens, most patients could expect, at best, only a 50 percent chance of a cure.
“Our results demonstrate that LDV/SOF, PrOD and SOF regimens can achieve remarkably high SVR [sustained virologic response] rates in real-world clinical practice,” VA researchers wrote.
The new drug regimens examined in the study do not contain interferon, which has troublesome side effects such as fever, fatigue, and low blood counts. The newer drugs are considered far more tolerable than the older interferon-based antiviral regimens, although they are far more expensive.
The researchers extracted anonymous data on all patients in VA care who received HCV antiviral treatments between January 2014 and June 2015 using the VA Corporate Data Warehouse, a national, continually updated repository of data from VA’s computerized patient records.
The study’s optimistic finding is a source of optimism for Veterans and others infected with the hepatitis C virus, according to coauthors Dr. Lauren Beste and Dr. George Ioannou, specialists in internal medicine and hepatology, respectively, with the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle.
According to the researchers, modern, direct-acting antiviral drugs for hepatitis C far outperform our older options in terms of efficacy and tolerability. With older drugs, most patients could not undergo antiviral treatment because they had contraindications or medication side effects. With newer options, almost anyone can safely undergo treatment for hepatitis C.
VA research continues to expand knowledge of the disease through scientific studies focused on effective care, screening, and health care delivery. Some studies look at particular groups of hepatitis C patients—for example, female Veterans, or those with complicated medical conditions in addition to hepatitis C.
For more information on VA care for hepatitis C, visit www.hepatitis.va.gov and www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/hcv/index.asp. Information about the database study may be found in the September 2016 issue of the journal Gastroenterology
November 30, 2016
Click on the link above for full details regarding the communication being sent to our participants in the Fee Program. Effective January 2017 the rate for caregivers will increase to $17.55. If you have any questions, please contact the fee office in your area or you may also reach out to your social worker.
NOVEMBER 30, 2016
VA MidSouth Healthcare Network Announces New Facility Director
MOUNTAIN HOME, TN – The Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Dean B. Borsos as the new director of the Mountain Home, TN VA Medical Center (VAMC). Borsos will oversee delivery of health care to more than 170,000 veterans living in a 41-county area of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.
“We are excited to bring Mr. Borsos on board as the new director of the Mountain Home VA Medical Center,” said Jim A. Hayes, Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) 9 Interim Director. “His sound leadership qualities and proven experience will be valuable assets for the facility, the employees and volunteers, and most importantly, for the Veterans we are honored to serve.”
Borsos joins the VA with 20 years of experience in managing health care systems and business operations with 10 years at the Department of Defense and Air Force. Most recently, he served as Vice Commander (COO) for the Air Force Medical Support Agency where he ensured policy development and execution to support 44,000 personnel and 75 medical facilities. He was responsible for a $6 billion budget and 2.1 million beneficiaries worldwide. Borsos holds a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from Ohio University. He is a recipient of the Legion of Merit Medal and the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
The VA MidSouth Healthcare Network (VISN 9) is an integrated health care delivery system comprised of five Joint Commission accredited medical centers and one Joint Commission accredited Health Care System.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is looking for Military Caregivers from the following states to serve a two-year fellowship with the Foundation: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The mission of the program is to ensure military and veteran caregivers are able to participate directly in the Foundation’s initiatives, allowing them an opportunity to advise their programs and to play a leading role in raising awareness.
To learn more about this opportunity and to fill out an application, please click the link below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VA finalizes agreements for Veteran housing at
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
AUGUSTA, Ga. Sept. 23, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs finalized agreements on September 23, 2016 that will lead to the development of 98 units of housing for homeless or at-risk Veterans on the Uptown campus of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.
VA reached lease agreements with Freedom’s Path, LLC and Augusta Veterans Residences Limited Partnership. They will renovate and operate three historic buildings on the campus – Bldgs. 7, 18 and 76 — providing permanent, affordable housing for homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The housing will provide supportive services to eligible Veterans in the Augusta community.
Jason Tudor, Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Public Affairs Officer, said the partnerships with the lessees are a great way forward to Veterans challenged by homelessness.
“Eliminating homelessness among Veterans is one of VA’s highest priorities,” Tudor said. “Innovative partnerships with the private sector, such as these partnerships with Freedom’s Path, LLC and Augusta Veterans Residences Limited Partnership, provide needed housing opportunities for Georgia’s homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families.”
Construction will begin immediately on the three housing facilities, with planned openings and full operations at end of December 2017. The development includes renovation of Bldg. 7 to provide 20 units of permanent housing; renovation of Bldg. 76 to provide 50 units of permanent housing; and renovation of Bldg. 18 to provide 28 units of permanent housing.
JUNE 30, 2016 Augusta VAMC Parking Garage CLOSURE
We have received the following notice from the Augusta VAMC: “The downtown parking deck has been found to have chunks of concrete falling out of the expansion joints above the first and second levels. This is a safety concern for people and property. The structure is sound, but the expansion joints have junk in them from the construction. As a result, the Medical Center has decided to temporarily close the Parking Deck until it can be fixed and it is safe for people and property. Starting Wednesday, June 29, 2016 and until further notice, the DD Parking Deck will be closed. Patients will use alternative areas marked with wheelchair accessible and/or SCI only signs.”
SCI patients with parking stickers will be permitted to park around the flag pole in front of the hospital, as they did during construction of the garage. Please stay tuned for further details or changes.
Join us in Johnson City, TN on July 30, 2016 for a day of celebration to welcome home our Vietnam Veterans. A parade, ceremony, entertainment, and lunch will all begin at 9am, hosted by the Mountain Home VA Medical Center.
May 2, 2016
Ladies & Gents,
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) urges its members to contact your senators and representatives and ask them to support S. 2883, the “Appropriate Care for Disabled Veterans Act,” in the Senate, and the companion bill H.R. 5091 in the House of Representatives. This critically important legislation reinstates the requirement for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report on its capacity to provide specialized services, to include spinal cord injury or disease, blinded care, mental health care, and long-term care. This legislation addresses a longstanding priority of PVA.
The original reporting requirement expired in 2008. Since that time, there have been continuous reports of bed closures, staffing shortages, and denied access to care. This bill will ensure that VA can be held accountable for its mandated responsibility to care for those veterans with the most severe disabilities.
Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced S. 2883. The bill is also cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA). Representatives Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced the companion bill—H.R. 5091.
We urge every member to contact your senators and ask them to support S. 2883. You can find your individual senator’s office phone number at the following link: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/.
Similarly, we urge you to contact your representatives and ask them to support H.R. 5091. You can find your individual representative’s office phone number at the following link:
If you cannot find the office phone number for your senator or representative, please contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be directed to the appropriate House or Senate office.
Sherman Gillums Jr.
Acting Executive Director
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Phone (202) 416-7721
Fax (202) 416-7643
April 6, 2016
CALL FOR STORIES: We want to hear your experiences with the VA health care system
On April 18, PVA will join our partners in the VSO community to discuss with the Commission on Care our members’ experiences accessing VA health care. A contingent of the Commission on Care recently released a draft proposal that would eliminate the VA health care system over the next 20 years. This position is bolstered by the continuous negative reporting on VA health care. We need your help highlighting positive experiences you have had with the VA and the importance of maintaining a viable and robust VA health care system.
This is an opportunity for you to lend your voice to our efforts to ensure that the VA health care system that so many of our members rely upon is not shut down. If you have sought health care from the VA, please share your story with us about the kind and quality of care you received from VA, and if it satisfied your needs. Tell us what worked and what needs improving. Please also include the date you last used VA health care (month/year), if you will continue to seek health care from VA, the city and state of your VA facility, and your era or years of military service. Please email your story to email@example.com.
All stories we collect will be shared with the Commission on Care. If we remain silent, those individuals who want to close the VA health care system will only be emboldened. Now is our chance to set the record straight.
We appreciate your assistance and thank you for participating.
FYI From Fort Gordon, GA
100 Percent of Visitors to Be Screened
By Laura Levering, Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office
Fort Gordon will soon begin implementing the fourth and final phase of conducting National Crime Investigation Center background checks on visitors to the installation. A requirement from the Secretary of the Army mandates that all installations screen non-Department of Defense personnel before granting access to the installation. The requirement is part of an ongoing effort to maximize safety and security of military installations. Under the policy, visitors who do not have a federal government issued identification card must undergo an NCIC background check before entering the installation.
On Fort Gordon, the policy has been implemented in phases, with Phase I initiated on Oct. 1, 2014. Phase I applied to volunteers and contractors who work on Fort Gordon and who are ineligible to obtain a DoD ID card. Phase II applied to outside vendors and contractors who provide a service on the installation but who do not physically work on the installation, and Phase III applied to small group events, such as parties and sports tournaments. Under Phase IV, NCIC background checks must be conducted on 100 percent of non- DoD personnel prior to gaining access to the installation.
All installations must be in full compliance by Oct. 1, 2016 as indicated in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 and HQDA EXORD 033- 15. “Fort Gordon leadership is being aggressive in trying to tackle this compliance by doing as many recurring visitors’ background checks prior to Oct. 1 as we can,” said Thomas Scott, Directorate of Emergency Services security specialist. Screenings will be conducted at the Visitor Control Center at McKenna Gate and will be initiated by Fort Gordon VCC personnel, not by visitors’ requests.
Visitors must provide a valid driver’s license, social security number, vehicle registration and insurance for the initial screening. Results can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes per person. Information obtained during the screening will alert authorities to any outstanding warrants and in some cases could subject a person to arrest. Reasons a person may be denied access to the installation include – but are not limited to – crimes such as conviction of armed robbery, conviction of sex crimes, acts to overthrow the government, and those identified on the Terrorist Screening Database.
“We want to deter terrorists and criminals from gaining access to the installation,” Scott said. “That’s really what the goal is.” If the background check comes back clear, the person will be designated as “approved for access” on the installation’s access list. Just because an individual has been approved for access, doesn’t mean they will have unlimited access to the installation; they still must have a valid reason for entering Fort Gordon.
“Once they receive a favorable background check, on their return to Fort Gordon, they will need to obtain a visitor’s pass each time they wish to gain access,” Scott explained. A pass will be given not to exceed three days. The NCIC background check is valid for one year from the completed background check.
During the next several months, the community can expect longer wait times at the VCC as a result of the screenings. Looking ahead to the future, Scott said a contract is currently in place to expand the VCC, which will help alleviate some of the waiting times. The number of terminals will increase from three to six, and the VCC will expand its parking lot space.
“The Augusta community and the Fort Gordon community need to expect and be prepared for longer wait periods,” Scott said. “The public needs to understand that it’s going to be painful, but keeping an installation safe is not about convenience.”
Click on the links above for information regarding the W.G. Bill Hefner VAMC Creative Arts Festival, taking place in Salisbury, NC.
November 18, 2015 Volume 21, No. 11 PVA/Washington Update
October 2015- Darlene Laughter, CAVS, VHA-CM retired after 40 years of Federal Service and loyalty to our Nation and America’s Heros in North Carolina. We wish you the best and thank you for all you’ve done!
CHARLESTON UPDATE October 5, 2015 7:04am
Please note that outpatient around the Charleston area including NWS and Trident, and Myrtle Beach are CLOSED. The main hospital including inpatient services are still open but outpatient appointments will be CANCELED. Volunteers in those closed areas need not report. Other volunteers need not report to the VAMC if no safe way to report or choose not to due to travel challenges.
September 18, 2015
Ralph H. Johnson (Charleston) VAMC
Wills for Veterans Project
A large number of Veterans do not have a will or durable Power of Attorney for health care. This project offers low-income Veterans free will preparation services. The Wills offered will be “Basic” and will not include trusts. Veterans will be screened for income eligibility before setting an appointment. Veterans may take advantage of the Wills for Veterans Program on Friday, November 13, 2015 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the VA Community Resource and Referral Center, 2424 City Hall Ln, North Charleston.
Fisher House Charleston 2nd Annual Veterans Day Ball
The Fisher House Charleston (wholly owned subsidiary of Harbour House Inc.) invites you to support our Veterans and their families by attending the 2nd Veterans Day Ball on November 11, 2015. Our web site, www.fisherhousecharleston.org/events has everything needed to sign up/be a sponsor or to sponsor a veteran at attend the Ball.
Our capital campaign of 2015 is proceeding. Our goal is $2.5 mil. With the property paid off, it will be donated to the VA. The Fisher House Foundation will then build a Fisher House on the property at 150 Wentworth St., Charleston.
You also can sign up by sending a check made out to Fisher House Charleston with Ball and contact email in the “for/memo” section on your check. Mail the check to Fisher House Charleston, PO Box 829, Johns Island, SC 29457.
PLEASE, HELP US REACH OUR GOAL FOR THE VETERANS. THEY DID THEIR PART, LET’S DO OURS!
Paralyzed Veterans of America Reacts to Video Footage of Paralyzed Veterans Left Alone at Memphis VA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: August 26, 2015
Lani Poblete 202-416-7667
Washington, DC—In a recent video aired on Fox & Friends today, a paralyzed veteran who was housed on the spinal cord injury inpatient ward at the Memphis VA Medical Center said he felt “thrown to the wolves” in the video, which showed a nursing station unmanned for an extended period. A former Memphis VA employee and whistleblower who saw the video, said patients are typically left alone for about an hour each evening during staff meetings attended by all hospital staff, despite a requirement that at least one nurse remain stationed at all times.
Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and a paralyzed veteran himself, said, “This video speaks to a need that our organization has stressed to VA leaders, Congress, and the public for quite some time: VA needs more nurses in specialized care services like spinal cord injury centers.”
VA Needs to Increase Nursing Staff
The Memphis VA Medical Center operates one of 25 centers within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and disease. As veterans with paralysis live longer due to advances in medicine and research, the need for additional staff to take care of these veterans over their lifetime has also risen. VA is currently the only provider in the U.S. that offers a nationwide, comprehensive system of care for persons who suffer the effects of traumatic injury, dysfunctions to the spinal cord, Multiple Sclerosis, and other paralyzing conditions.
Paralyzed Veterans of America’s team of clinicians conducts annual site visits at VA Spinal Cord Injury & Disease Centers (SCI/D) and spoke sites staffed by SCI/D teams. The organization has documented years of understaffing in VA and is currently working with VA to develop a staffing methodology that will ensure nurse-to-patient ratios are adequate to meet demand in places like Memphis.
VA is the Best Choice for SCI/D Long-Term Care
“Memphis VA obviously needs some work. But the issue is bigger than one facility. We hear some tout ‘Veterans Choice’ as a panacea for VA’s problems. However, it’s a false choice for veterans who rely on the services only VA can provide, which is why investment in specialized services must continue. This means hiring more clinicians in places like Memphis,” said Gillums.
“We can no longer scrimp on the cost of freedom where our Nation’s most disabled heroes are concerned.”
“In the military, we are expected to answer the call of duty. The same philosophy applies in our VA hospitals where providers are expected to be there for our veterans whenever needed. That starts by ensuring we have enough providers to do the job,” Gillums concluded.
CHARLESTON VA MEDICAL CENTER UPDATE: TRAINING VETERANS FOR A NEW CAREER
8/10/15: Compensated Work Therapy and Sterile Processing Service have teamed up to create a valuable experience for Veterans to gain on-the-job education and training at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. CWT is designed to assist Veterans who are not ready to seek immediate competitive employment due to significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining gainful employment in the community. For full story, click here.
SOUTHEASTERN CHAPTER OF PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA LAUNCHES
VEHICLE DONATION PROGRAM
Wheels Helping Warriors Program Offers Unique Opportunity to Support Disabled Veterans
WASHINGTON, DC—The Southeastern Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) today announced the launch of its vehicle donation program, Wheels Helping Warriors. The program provides a new opportunity for the public to support the many men and women who have served and sacrificed for America’s freedom, simply by making a vehicle donation to the organization.
“The funds raised from vehicle donations will help us continue providing our vital programs, services and support free to local veterans,” said Al Evans, president of Paralyzed Veterans’ Southeastern Chapter. “We’re excited to work with the national program to help us maximize our visibility and awareness through combined marketing efforts, and allow us to reach a wider audience of supporters.”
Wheels Helping Warriors marks Paralyzed Veterans’ first nationwide vehicle donation program. The funds raised from the program help provide veterans access to free employment counseling, benefits assistance, advocacy, adaptive sports and recreation programs and more.
Paralyzed Veterans has partnered with the Donation Division of Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA), the leading live and live-online salvage auto auction company, to help with the donation process. IAA’s Donation Division provides nonprofit organizations with complete donation processing services—a key differentiator in the marketplace that creates a simplified approach for participants. IAA assists with title issues, vehicle pickup, auction services and receipts all donors following the auction.
Wheels Helping Warriors accepts all types of vehicles for donation including motorcycles, motor-homes, cars, trucks, boats, etc.—regardless of the condition.
To learn more about the program or to donate a vehicle, please visit www.wheelshelpingwarriors.org or call 1-855-744-0782.
PVA President Annual Testimony
This week the PVA National President Al Kovach, Jr. will present his annual testimony to a joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs. The hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, at 10:00 AM EDT. The hearing will be streamed live at www.veterans.senate.gov. Every member of PVA is encouraged to watch the hearing. President Kovach will present the legislative priorities for PVA for this year and discuss issues that are at the forefront of the debate on Capitol Hill. PVA’s priorities can be viewed at www.pva.org.
Click on title above for link to full article
By Cathryn Domrose Monday February 9, 2015
A negative example of gender equality
PTSD in veterans historically has been linked to men who served in combat zones. But according to VA studies, women — who make up about 15% of active-duty soldiers and 20% of the National Guard and U.S. reserves, and are the fastest growing group of U.S. veterans — experience PTSD at about the same rate as men. One in five women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been diagnosed with PTSD, and nearly 30% of female Vietnam veterans suffered PTSD at some point in their postwar lives. Nearly all of the estimated 10,000 women who served in Vietnam were nurses, according to VA statistics.
Some PTSD in female veterans results from combat or other stressors, but much is related to military sexual trauma — assault or repeated and threatening sexual harassment during service, said psychologist Margret Bell, PhD, the VA’s national deputy director for military sexual trauma. One in four female veterans screened by the VA reported sexual trauma during their service, according to VA reports. Some studies indicate nearly half of women who’ve experienced military sexual trauma eventually develop PTSD, according to VA research.
Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the trauma; nightmares; avoidance of situations that might trigger memories of the trauma; feelings of numbness; and increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, jumpiness and irritability. PTSD linked to military sexual trauma can be even more complex because it often involves betrayal — an assault or harassment by a boss or a colleague, someone the veteran knew and trusted, said Ursula Kelly, PhD, ANP-BC, PMHNP-BC, nurse scientist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and assistant professor at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, who is researching PTSD related to military sexual trauma. “These are the people who are supposed to have your back.”
Be on the lookout for PTSD
Nurses who work with female veterans say the nursing role in assessing, diagnosing and treating them includes the following:
Routinely asking all women over age 18 if they have ever served in the armed forces, including the U.S. reserves and the National Guard.
Being aware of the symptoms of PTSD, and knowing how to ask patients about possible sexual or combat trauma related to their military service.
Knowing how and where to refer female veterans who are experiencing PTSD — particularly the VA resources available to them. The website PTSD.VA.gov has examples of veterans talking about their experiences at the VA, and the Women Veterans Call Center, 855-VAWOMEN, will take calls from providers and can help them connect patients to the nearest VA. Nurses also can refer female veteran patients to veteran’s groups outside of the VA where other veterans may share their own PTSD situations and experiences provided through VA services.
Fort Jackson, Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Celebration, May 16, 2015
Fort Jackson will be holding to host a long over-due Welcome Home Celebration for all our Vietnam Veterans. There will be activities all day long at Hilton Field on Fort Jackson. They are wanting to honor Vietnam Veterans from all branches of service and would like to have their participation in the days events and program.
Ltc. Gagan is wanting contact information for Navy, Marine and Air Force Veterans as well as Army Veterans for the event. This is not just for Army Veterans, but All Veterans. Please contact him direct at email address: firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a Vietnam Veteran and would like to attend, receive more information or if you know of a Vietnam Veteran you think would be interested in being honored that day.
The day is open to all who want to come and say Thank You! It looks like a fun filled day with lots of activities and music for everyone. Come for the day or for specific events. You won’t be disappointed!
MARCH 25, 2015
FACT SHEET FROM THE DEPT. OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
‘VA WORKS TO EXPAND CHOICE PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY’
Please click on the link below. The following article is new information regarding the current work that is being done to expand the Choice Program eligibility.
The full article will open in a new window.
032315 March 2015 40 mile rule change fact sheet_FINAL
OCTOBER 27, 2014
MESSAGE FROM VISN 7 NETWORK DIRECTOR
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE as the new Director of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
Mr. Isaacks, former Associate Medical Center Director for Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, has sound leadership qualities and proven experience. I am certain he will continue to be a valuable asset to our VISN, our employees and volunteers, our health care partners, the community, and most importantly the Veterans we are honored to serve.
Mr. Isaacks’ appointment is effective November 2, 2014.
Charles Sepich, Director
VA Southeast Network (VISN 7)
United Spinal’s program, VetsFirst, is recruiting veterans interested in serving on our new VetsFirst Public Policy Advisory Committee.
VetsFirst advocates for the programs, services, and disability rights that help all generations of veterans with disabilities remain independent. This includes access to VA financial and health care benefits, housing, transportation, and employment services and opportunities. Our advocacy efforts focus not only on veterans who are living with spinal cord injuries and disorders but also those who are living with other disabilities.
The VetsFirst Public Policy Advisory Committee will serve as a forum for discussion of public policy views on topics of interest to VetsFirst. The purpose of the committee is to assist VetsFirst policy staff in developing views on emerging topics of interest to veterans as people with disabilities. The committee will also assist in the development of yearly policy priorities.
The committee would meet by phone at least quarterly and participate in United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC next summer.
If you or members of your chapters who are veterans are interested in this opportunity, please contact Heather Ansley, VP of VetsFirst, for more information at email@example.com or 202-556-2076, ext. 7702.
News Release: COLUMBIA SC AREA MEMBERS
Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center
6439 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC 29209
Kevin Lee McIver, Public Affairs Officer, (803) 776-4000 ext. 6519, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
Sept. 2, 2014
Dorn VA Medical Center hosts Outreach Fair and Town Hall for Veterans
Events provide information and opportunities for feedback on VA healthcare
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center will host an outreach fair and public town hall meeting for Veterans and their families on September 24.
“Staff will be available at the outreach fair to provide Veterans with valuable healthcare and benefit information,” said Medical Center Director Timothy B. McMurry. “The town hall will provide a forum where we can gather important input directly from Veterans to improve our VA programs.”
The outreach fair will be held 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the main lobby of the Medical Center (building 100). Following the fair, a town hall meeting will be held next door from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Auditorium (building 5). Free event parking is available in parking lot number 1 and the overflow parking lot.
“It is essential that we to listen to our Veterans who use VA healthcare so we can continuously improve our services at the Dorn VA Medical Center,” added McMurry. “This public town hall will aid us in obtaining valuable feedback that ultimately translates to improved access and healthcare for our South Carolina Veterans.”
# # #
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2014
VA Fights Against Veteran Identity Theft
Launches new identity theft website and toll-free help line
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it has launched a new campaign to educate Veterans about identity theft prevention. The new campaign, titled More Than a Number, references the personally identifiable information that VA encourages Veterans to protect.
“We recognize that for Veterans, as for all Americans in the digital age, identity theft is a growing concern,” said Steph Warren, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “Our goal is to help educate and protect those who have protected this great country.”
VA’s Office of Information and Technology recently announced the launch of a new website containing identity theft resources for Veterans and their beneficiaries. The website can be found at www.va.gov/identitytheft and features educational information, interactive multimedia and links to other online identity theft prevention resources. The campaign also includes a toll-free help line offering support for Veterans, their beneficiaries and VA employees who have questions and concerns about identity theft. The toll-free number is 1-855-578-5492, and it will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., EST.
In defending against identity theft, VA understands that awareness is critical. With More Than a Number, VA aims to educate Veterans on the risk of identity theft and how to avoid becoming a victim.
“Small changes can have big consequences,” Warren added. “Little things like shredding banking statements before throwing them away or using strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts can make a significant difference in protecting your identity from thieves who may try to use your personal information.”
VA takes seriously its obligation to properly safeguard any personal information within its possession and has in place a strong multi-layered defense to combat evolving cyber security threats. VA is committed to protecting Veteran information, continuing its efforts to strengthen information security and putting in place the technology and processes to ensure that Veteran data at VA is secure.
In the event of a loss of VA data, VA has safeguards in place to protect against identity fraud. Acting out of an abundance of caution, VA’s standard practice is to provide free credit protection service enrollment, monitoring services and reports, fraudulent charge alerts, and fraud resolution and identity theft insurance to individuals affected by a VA data breach with a reasonable risk for the potential misuse of any sensitive personal information.
For Immediate Release
June 9, 2014
VA Releases Data on Quality, Access to Veterans Healthcare
Acting Secretary Gibson Provides Transparency, Announces Further Actions on Timely Healthcare Access
WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the results from its Nationwide Access Audit, along with facility level patient access data, medical center quality and efficiency data, and mental health provider survey data, for all Veterans health facilities.
Full details made public at VA.gov follow Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson’s commitment last week in Phoenix, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas to provide timely access to quality healthcare Veterans have earned and deserved.
“It is our duty and our privilege to provide Veterans the care they have earned through their service and sacrifice,” said Acting Secretary Gibson. “As the President has said, as Secretary Shinseki said, and as I stated plainly last week, we must work together to fix the unacceptable, systemic problems in accessing VA healthcare.
“Today, we’re providing the details to offer transparency into the scale of our challenges, and of our system itself. I’ll repeat – this data shows the extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions. As of today, VA has contacted 50,000 Veterans across the country to get them off of wait lists and into clinics. Veterans deserve to have full faith in their VA, and they will keep hearing from us until all our Veterans receive the care they’ve earned.”
Acting Secretary Gibson announced a series of additional actions in response to today’s audit findings and data, including:
• Establishing New Patient Satisfaction Measurement Program
Acting Secretary Gibson has directed VHA to immediately begin developing a new patient satisfaction measurement program to provide real-time, robust, location-by-location information on patient satisfaction, to include satisfaction data of those Veterans attempting to access VA healthcare for the first time. This program will be developed with input from Veterans Service Organizations, outside health care organizations, and other entities. This will ensure VA collects an additional set of data – directly from the Veteran’s perspective – to understand how VA is doing throughout the system.
• Holding Senior Leaders Accountable
Where audited sites identify concerns within the parent facility or its affiliated clinics, VA will trigger administrative procedures to ascertain the appropriate follow-on personnel actions for specific individuals.
• Ordering an Immediate VHA Central Office and VISN Office Hiring Freeze
Acting Secretary Gibson has ordered an immediate hiring freeze at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) central office in Washington D.C. and the 21 VHA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) regional offices, except for critical positions to be approved by the Secretary on a case-by-case basis. This action will begin to remove bureaucratic obstacles and establish responsive, forward leaning leadership.
• Removing 14-Day Scheduling Goal
VA is eliminating the 14-day scheduling goal from employee performance contracts. This action will eliminate incentives to engage in inappropriate scheduling practices or behaviors.
• Increasing Transparency by Posting Data Twice-Monthly
At the direction of the Acting Secretary, VHA will post regular updates to the access data released today at the middle and end of each month at VA.gov. Twice-monthly data updates will enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to Veterans and the public on Veterans access to quality healthcare.
• Initiating an Independent, External Audit of Scheduling Practices
Acting Secretary Gibson has also directed that an independent, external audit of system-wide VHA scheduling practices be performed.
• Sending Additional Frontline Team to Address Phoenix
Following his trip to Phoenix VA Medical Center last week, Acting Secretary Gibson directed a VHA frontline team to travel to Phoenix to immediately address scheduling, access, and resource requirements needed to provide Veterans the timely, quality healthcare they deserve.
• Utilizing High Performing Facilities to Help Those That Need Improvement
VA will formalize a process in which high performing facilities provide direct assistance and share best practices with facilities that require improvement on particular medical center quality and efficiency, also known as SAIL, performance measures.
• Applying Immediate Access Reforms Announced in Phoenix to Most Challenged VA Facilities
Last week, Acting Secretary Gibson announced a series of measures to address healthcare access problems in Phoenix. Today, Acting Secretary Gibson announced he’ll apply the same reforms to facilities with the most access problems from the results of the audit, including:
• Hiring Additional Clinical and Patient Support Staff
VA will deploy teams of dedicated human resource employees to accelerate the hiring of additional, needed staff.
• Employing New Staffing Measures
VA’s first goal is to get Veterans off wait lists and into clinics. VA is using temporary staffing measures, along with clinical and administrative support, to ensure these Veterans receive the care they have earned through their service.
• Deploying Mobile Medical Units
VA will send mobile medical units to facilities to immediately provide services to patients and Veterans awaiting care.
• Providing More Care by Modifying Local Contract Operations
VA will modify local contract operations to be able to offer more community-based care to Veterans waiting to be seen by a doctor.
• Removing Senior Leadership Where Appropriate
Where appropriate, VA will initiate the process of removing senior leaders. Acting Secretary Gibson is committed to using all authority at VA’s disposal to enforce accountability among senior leaders.
• Suspending Performance Awards
VA has suspended all VHA senior executive performance awards for FY2014.
• Future Travel
Over the course of the next several weeks, Acting Secretary Gibson will travel to a series of VA facilities across the country. He will hear directly from Veterans and employees about obstacles to providing timely, quality care and how VA can immediately address them.
National audit and patient access data available at www.va.gov/health/access-audit.asp.
Medical center quality and efficiency (SAIL) and mental health data available at http://www.hospitalcompare.va.gov/.
Visually Impaired or Blind Veterans?
Looking for a Place to Belong?
If you know someone, or, are a Blind or Visually Impaired Veteran in the Charleston, SC area and are looking for a place to belong, you are welcome to attend our monthly meetings. On the second Saturday of each month a group of Blinded and visually impaired veterans gather for lunch at the “Hello Deli” in North Charleston, SC. Hello Deli is in the parking lot of the North Charleston City Hall.
Often, there is a guest speaker at the monthly meetings. Subjects are many and varied. Veterans Administration issues to changes in compensation and pension to Medicare and Senior Citizen’s needs. Other subjects include, but, are not limited to: Diabetes and dialysis to Blind Rehabilitation Centers and accessibility needs. Problems or issues of blindness are often discussed and insights can be collected for use.
The Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans have banded together for knowledge and advocacy concerning issues of Veterans Administration, Blindness and Visual Impairment. As a group, we provide donations to a several Veterans Programs. Tours and trips are planned and enjoyed by the membership. We go fishing, have a Bowling Tournament, attend community and area events, and have a Christmas get-together each year.
You are welcome to come and have lunch. You’ll find a place to belong!
We are the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the Sight
Impaired Veterans of America**
**For more information, please Call Gary Rice (843) 873-2625 or
Avery Brooks at (843) 764-1654
February 20, 2014
VA Announces Roll Out of Secure Veteran Health Identification Cards
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the phased roll out of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards are distinguished by additional security features and will have a different look and feel.
In addition to being more secure, the card has been transformed into a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC). Similar to a typical health insurance card, the VHIC displays the Veteran’s Member ID, a new unique identifier, as well as a Plan ID, reflecting the Veteran’s enrollment in VA health care.
“VA is committed to providing high quality health care while ensuring the personal security of Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These new identification cards are an important step forward in protecting our nation’s heroes from identity theft and other personal crimes.”
The VHIC is personalized to display the emblem of the Veteran’s branch of service. It also provides features that make it easier to use, such as the addition of “VA” in Braille to help visually impaired Veterans, and the printing of VA phone numbers and emergency care instructions on the cards.
The card replaces the Veteran Identification Card (VIC), which was introduced in 2004. As part of a phased rollout, starting this month, the card will only be offered to newly enrolled and other Veterans who have not been issued a VIC. Then, in early April, VA will begin a three month effort to automatically issue the more secure VHIC to current VIC cardholders. VA recommends Veterans safeguard their VIC as they would a credit card, and cut up or shred the card once it is replaced. While not required to receive VA health care, all enrolled Veterans are encouraged to get a VHIC.
Enrolled Veterans can get more information about the VHIC by visiting their VA medical facility enrollment coordinator or the website www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic<http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic>, calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility.
Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system can apply for enrollment at any time by visiting www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll<http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll>, Calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility.
Veterans Information Update
VAMC ID Cards Up-Date
A message was sent to our VAMCs on September 20, 2013. This message notified the facilities that the Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) production was temporarily suspended, to allow various hospital applications to get updated to allow them to access the new VHIC system.
At that time, it was anticipated that card production would restart in November. Facilities were to continue to process card requests for Veterans, with the cards going into a queue, and to be mailed out as soon as card production started again.
However, due to the government shut down in October, the card vendor also had to cease work, so the restart was pushed back to December. This information was provided to our facilities on October 23.
On December 16, 2013, our facilities were notified that the new VHICs will begin to be produced again in the middle of January 2014. Veterans should begin receiving cards at the end of January or early February 2014 (allowing for mailing).
All facilities should be telling their Veterans about the delays in receiving their cards when processing the Veteran’s card requests and taking their photos. If a veteran had their photo taken before September 20, they may not have been notified of the delay. This is a national delay, not just a regional issue.
November 2013 Please click on the above to read this important alert!
Pictured below is the new PVA, and by mandate, local Chapters’, basic logo that has been approved immediately. The new logo was adopted by nearly unanimous vote at the August 2013 Annual Convetion of PVA, held in Long Beach, California. The hope is that this new silhouette will be gender-neutral in support of both female and male veterans. The fact that the silhouette is saluting and in uniform serves as a reminder of a person’s active duty service to our country, hopefully instilling a sense of patriotism. SEPVA will slowly transition to this new logo with our stationary and the newsletter. __________________________________________________________________
October 17, 2013
Veteran ID Card
Finally, a veteran ID card that recognizes your faithful service to your country. No longer will you have to carry around your DD Form 214 for proof of military service. The Veteran ID Card illustrates your veteran status, displays your special military recognitions (certain awards), shows your disability rating, your medical diagnosis, and much more.
NOTE: The Veteran ID Card produced by USVCP is not an official State or Federal government ID card. The Veteran ID Card is produced and managed exclusively by USVCP and used by USVCP members primarily for programs and services sponsored by USVCP. Also, USVCP provides high-quality, effective, and efficient third party verification to confirm military service of all Veteran ID Cardholders. Our team of specialists use documentation from veterans to confirm and validate proof of military service. Our high-quality third party verification system acts as a buffer for the veteran and the general public. The Veteran ID Card is not to be used for official military business.
Due to the Government Shutdown the Regional VA Offices are CLOSED to public access. If you need to reach a Service Officer, please call them. This remains until further notice.
9/27/2013 VA EMERGENCY CARE FACTS
Click on the link below for further information.
VA NEWS RELEASE
Department of Veterans Affairs
April 23, 2013 – The Department of Veterans Affairs launched its new Hotline – 1-855-VA-WOMEN – to receive and respond to questions from Veterans, their families and caregivers about many VA services and resources available to women Veterans. The service began accepting calls on April 23, 22013.
ATLANTA VAMC: Update for On/Off Campus Parking
EFFECTIVE: April 1, 2013
All valet parking spaces at the ATLANTA VAMC will be converted to open, self parking.
With the opening of our new parking decks, the demand for valet parking has
been significantly reduced. To ensure a smooth transition, we plan to take the
• VA Police will provide adequate traffic control and on-site parking assistance
• Medical Center staff will aid those disabled Veterans in and out of their vehicles at the
front entrance to allow family members and care givers ample time to park
• Shuttles will be available for pick-up and drop-off services in all parking decks
• Wheelchairs will be available in the parking decks for Veterans who need them
• Our Briarcliff parking location, which offers free parking and shuttle service to
and from the medical center, is encouraged
Directions to parking from
Exit the highway at Clairmont Road.
Make the turn left or right going
toward the Medical Center. Drive to
Briarcliff Road. Turn right on Briarcliff
and left at the first traffic light into the
Security is available. Employees may use any spaces unoccupied by patients.
JANUARY 24, 2013: Veterans Information Update
Current Information Regarding DD-214’s
DD-214 Discharge Papers are NOW ONLINE
National personnel Records Center (NPRC) has provided the following information off the MTWS site. Website for veterans to gain access to their DD-214s online:
This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his/her DD-214 for employment purposes. NPRC is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and Internet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.
Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents.
Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Form 180, which can be downloaded from the online web site. Because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized. The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records centers mail-room and processing time.
Please pass this information on to former military personnel you may know and their dependents.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2012
VA, SSA and IRS Cut Red Tape for Veterans and Survivors
New Policy Eliminates Paperwork, Allows More VA Staff to Focus on Eliminating Claims Backlog
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is cutting red tape for Veterans by eliminating the need for them to complete an annual Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). VA will implement a new process for confirming eligibility for benefits, and staff that had been responsible for processing the old form will instead focus on eliminating the compensation claims backlog.
Historically, beneficiaries have been required to complete an EVR each year to ensure their pension benefits continued. Under the new initiative, VA will work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify continued eligibility for pension benefits.
“By working together, we have cut red tape for Veterans and will help ensure these brave men and women get the benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
VA estimates it would have sent nearly 150,000 EVRs to beneficiaries in January 2013. Eliminating these annual reports reduces the burden on Veterans, their families, and survivors because they will not have to return these routine reports to VA each year in order to avoid suspension of benefits. It also allows VA to redirect more than 100 employees that usually process EVRs to work on eliminating the claims backlog.
“Having already instituted an expedited process that enables wounded warriors to quickly access Social Security disability benefits, we are proud to work with our federal partners on an automated process that will make it much easier for qualified Veterans to maintain their VA benefits from year to year,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security.
“The IRS is taking new steps to provide critical data to help speed the benefits process for the nation’s veterans and Veterans Affairs,” said Beth Tucker, IRS Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support. “The IRS is pleased to be part of a partnership with VA and SSA that will provide needed data quickly and effectively to move this effort forward.”
All beneficiaries currently receiving VA pension benefits will receive a letter from VA explaining these changes and providing instructions on how to continue to submit their unreimbursed medical expenses.
More information about VA pension benefits is available at http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension and other VA benefit programs on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov.
Veterans Information Update
An annual increase to the automobile allowance for Veterans is public law. Effective October 1, 2012, the new rate is $19,505, for authorized service-connected veterans. The new rate will officially be published in the forthcoming Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) fast letter.
COLA will also be increasing to 1.7% for Social Security, VA Benefits, and Military Retirement. This increase will take effect on January 1, 2013. The VA Adaptive Housing Grant for Service Connective Veterans was also increased on October 1, 2012 to $64,990. Remember if you are a veterans and have any questions about your VA Benefits please give your National Service Officer a call.
In past few months there have been changes in the Clothing Allowances. These changes have a lot of us confuse as to what we are and are not eligible for. If you feel that you are eligible for more then one Clothing Allowance and need more information, please contact your National Service Officer. Also if you know of a Veteran that be eligible or have questions on these changes please assist them in getting the correct information.
August 12, 2012
Warning about potential VRAP scam!
From Jim Morrison, Information Security Office, Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, Charleston, SC
Please be aware of a potential scam targeting veterans who have either signed up or have been approved for VRAP!
A veteran has reported receiving a call from someone named “James” who congratulated him on his VRAP approval. He advised him that he knew the exact amount he was approved for and that the $8,500 would be directly deposited into his account within 45 minutes of hime giving his backing account number and routing number and paying $205 for the service fee.
This person is not affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA will never charge you to access your benefits or ask you to provide private information over the phone. If you do receive a call like this, please contact the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.
If you are not familiar with VRAP (Veterans Retraining Assistance Program), it is money provided to veterans monthly for retraining. Veterans receive a $1,473 a month stipend to attend a training school or community college. As of today 38,486 unemployed veterans have signed up for the much needed program and we need to make them aware of this type of fraud!!