American Veteran News 04.05.16

VETERANS’ HEALTH DERAILED BY VA SKIPPING OUT ON MILLIONS IN DOCTOR BILLS — DAILY CALLER — free-choice program implemented to get veterans crucial medical care is under siege because the Department of Veterans Affairs has not paid millions of dollars owed to the doctors providing it.

Now, the VA employee union, which opposes letting veterans get care outside their system in the first place, is citing VA employees’ failure as the reason to abort the fix.

Congress approved the Choice Card program in 2014 after a flood of media reports of veterans dying as VA facilities across the nation manipulated official data to conceal long delays in scheduling appointments.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN VETERANS RECEIVE BAD PAPER DISCHARGES? — TASK & PURPOSE — Discharges for misconduct are on the rise military wide, but this behavior could be the result of post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury. It is up to the military to sort through undeserved bad papers.

After hearing he had been stop-lossed and would be heading back to Iraq for a second time, Kristofer Goldsmith decided to end his life. Going back to war acted as a trigger to his ongoing and undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder that he had been silently suffering since returning home from his first deployment. In May 2007, the young Army sergeant washed down opiates with vodka and walked into a field.


A 95-YEAR-OLD WORLD WAR II VET GETS OVERDUE MEDALS FOR HEROISM AND SERVICE — FOX NEWS — A 95-year-old vet who flew 35 combat missions in World War II never received the medals he earned for heroism and service but that oversight was finally remedied Friday at a special ceremony.

Irvin Daubert of Cheshire, Conn., was a B-24 Liberator staff sergeant and armor gunner on missions to drop supplies to troops on the ground, Fox 61 reports. He and his crewmates came under attack more than once but no one was ever wounded or killed on any of the missions.

He is the last living member of his B-24 crew, the station reported.


STUDY FINDS VA FAILS TO PROTECT VETERANS FROM DECEPTIVE RECRUITING — INSIDE HIGHER ED — A memo from Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic finds that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had the authority to protect veterans from institutions that use deceptive recruiting practices by denying GI Bill funds to those colleges. But the VA and other state approving agencies have failed to do so.

“Although the VA is responsible for overseeing education benefits for veterans, it has been slow to join other agencies in addressing deceptive practices, drawing criticism from congressional and veterans’ leaders,” said the memo.

The memo prompted Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, to call on the VA to act against deceptive recruitment by predatory colleges.

“The VA has a clear moral and legal obligation to identify fraudulent behavior at schools that enroll veterans,” said Blumenthal. “The VA should also partner with the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies to crack down on predatory for-profit schools so that veterans do not waste their hard-earned benefits on worthless degrees.”


LAWMAKERS MAKE CASE FOR MAKING IT EASIER TO FIRE VA EMPLOYEES — FEDSMITH — The Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs sent a letter last week to the Senate VA Committee Chairman making the case for legislation that would make it easier to fire federal employees who work for the VA.

The letter, which was written by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), called on the Senate to pass the VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994 and S. 1082) . It listed numerous veterans groups that support the bill and noted that it easily passed the House due to its support.

“The reason all of the aforementioned [veterans] groups support making it easier for VA to discipline all employees is because right now it is essentially impossible to do so,” the letter said.

“In fact, since H.R. 1994 passed the House and S. 1082 cleared your committee, we have continuously seen instance after instance in which the VA has failed to provide meaningful discipline for employees that, by any measure of common sense, do not deserve to be employed at the Department [of Veterans Affairs]. In one incident, the VA was not able to sustain the firing of an employee in Puerto Rico who participated in an armed robbery and, according to media reports, the employee even collected back pay for time she spent in jail.”

The letter went on to say that the House Committee is concerned that the Senate Committee has halted negations and may be trying to broker a deal without actually addressing the problems that plague the agency currently.

A copy of the letter is included below.


WE BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE VA’S ‘TOP-UP’ PROGRAM — TASK & PURPOSE — The VA offers tuition aid for active-duty service members pursuing a degree.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers tuition assistance to service members called the Tuition Assistance “Top-up” Program.

This type of aid, which can be used to finish a degree, pays for whatever portion of a college course’s tuition and fees that are not covered by other forms of financial aid. If the total expense of the courses is more than the tuition assistance offered, then the VA covers the difference, and subtracts that money from a student’s remaining GI Bill benefits.

In order to be eligible, you must be an GI Bill participant, still on active duty, and must have served at least two full years. The top-up program is only available for recipients of the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill programs.


DITHERING VA SLAMS DOOR ON MORE VETS — WND — Nearly two years after the veterans’ health-care scandal broke, hardly any meaningful change has occurred, and now reports suggest a growing number of vets aren’t just having to wait for care but are being told they are ineligible.

The latest black eye for the Department of Veterans Affairs is a new report from the veterans group Swords to Plowshares showing that more and more vets are being denied access to the VA system because of “bad papers,” the military term for anything less than an honorable discharge.

The report indicates that veterans since 2001 are more than twice as likely to be denied medical benefits for an “other than honorable” discharge than their counterparts from the Vietnam era and four times as likely as those who served in World War II. All told, 10 percent of Marines have been denied under these circumstances while the rate across all branches stands at 6.5 percent.

In real numbers, 125,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are being denied care due to “bad papers.”

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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