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  1. Find a VA Healthcare Provider You can search by state https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/ourproviders
  2. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/gulfwar/gulfwar-newsletter-feb2016.pdf Please don't shoot the messenger I am just passing this on for more to see.
  3. http://www.spinalinjury101.org/details/levels-of-injury High-Cervical Nerves (C1 – C4) Most severe of the spinal cord injury levels Paralysis in arms, hands, trunk and legs Patient may not be able to breathe on his or her own, cough, or control bowel or bladder movements. Ability to speak is sometimes impaired or reduced. When all four limbs are affected, this is called tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Requires complete assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, and getting in or out of bed May be able to use powered wheelchairs with special controls to move around on their own Will not be able to drive a car on their own Requires 24-hour-a-day personal care
  4. The Crazy one here, look we share we learn. In recent years, policymakers have examined the interaction of two federal programs that provide benefits to military personnel with service-connected disabilities. In September 2009, the Government Accountability Office issued a report recommending that the Social Security Administration (SSA) increase its outreach and collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve access to Social Security disability benefits for military personnel wounded since October 2001 in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (GAO 2009). Also in 2009, both houses of Congress introduced legislation known as the BRAVE Act1 that would certify veterans judged by the VA to have total disability (that is, having a combined rating of 100%2 or a rating of individual unemployability [IU]) as meeting the medical requirements of the disability programs administered by SSA. Essentially, a veteran with a rating of total disability would not have to undergo the medical portions of SSA’s disability determination to be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The veteran would have to be insured for disability in order to qualify for Disability Insurance (DI) worker benefits and could not be engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v74n3/ssb-v74n3.pdf
  5. A report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) says dozens of military veterans incorrectly received letters indicating they would lose unemployment benefits after an overworked VA staff member in Seattle lost track of records they had submitted. VA auditors took a sampling of 132 employment questionnaires and determined that one-fifth of the veterans had been sent letters indicating a reduction or cancellation of benefits, even though they had mailed forms that should have allowed them to continue receiving money. The VAOIG report is available on the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General website. http://www.military.com/military-report/va-sends-errant-letters-to-seattle-vets.html
  6. Mark – Urbandale, Iowa: I had a service-related injury that worsened over time. In 1994, I was awarded 100 percent V.A. benefits. When I inquired with Social Security back then, I was told I didn’t qualify due to my V.A. benefits. I accepted the response. I figured they should know. I felt bad about even asking, but I inquired, because I had paid in since I was 16. Yesterday, my nephew told me that that wasn’t true. So I called today, and they said I didn’t qualify, because I haven’t worked in the last five years. (Of course I haven’t — I am disabled.) I don’t know if the law has changed since 1994, but by today’s laws, I would have qualified since I had worked back then. This just doesn’t seem fair. Can you help or perhaps provide advice? Larry Kotlikoff: I’ve asked our Social Security Technical Adviser, Jerry Lutz, to weigh in. Jerry Lutz: First, sincere thanks for your service. You can still apply for Social Security disability benefits, but you will need to establish that your disability began within five years after you stopped working. Social Security should be able to access your V.A. medical records (with your permission), so there should be evidence available in your case. Remember, though, that Social Security’s definition of disability is different from the V.A., so there is no guarantee that you will be approved. If your claim is disallowed, don’t hesitate to file an appeal. Many disability cases are approved during the appeals process, and you can usually find an attorney who will represent you on a contingency basis. If you are approved, Social Security normally pays a maximum of 12 months of back pay on disability benefits. However, if you can establish that they misinformed you at the time of your first contact, it’s possible that they could pay you all of the retroactive benefits to which you would have been entitled. Remember the maximum 12 months of back pay is on top off your application date. In other words if SSA finds that you are disabled you will get your SSDI payment from your application date plus 12 (twelve) more months. Now if you hire an attorney you will have to sign an agreement to pay them 25% of your back pay and if SSA allows it, they will pay the attorney out of your back pay. I think 25% is the max the attorney can charge and it is you don't pay if you don't win. The key is your medical records have to prove that you were disabled within five years of you stopped working and you will most likely have to file an appeal to the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge). http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/qualify-va-benefits-social-security-disability-benefits/
  7. Why is it so easy for VA to ignore their own regulations and force veterans to get evidence for combat conditions? 3.304 Direct service connection; wartime and peacetime. (a) General. The basic considerations relating to service connection are stated in §3.303. The criteria in this section apply only to disabilities which may have resulted from service in a period of war or service rendered on or after January 1, 1947. (b) Presumption of soundness. The veteran will be considered to have been in sound condition when examined, accepted and enrolled for service, except as to defects, infirmities, or disorders noted at entrance into service, or where clear and unmistakable (obvious or manifest) evidence demonstrates that an injury or disease existed prior thereto and was not aggravated by such service. Only such conditions as are recorded in examination reports are to be considered as noted. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1111) (1) History of preservice existence of conditions recorded at the time of examination does not constitute a notation of such conditions but will be considered together with all other material evidence in determinations as to inception. Determinations should not be based on medical judgment alone as distinguished from accepted medical principles, or on history alone without regard to clinical factors pertinent to the basic character, origin and development of such injury or disease. They should be based on thorough analysis of the evidentiary showing and careful correlation of all material facts, with due regard to accepted medical principles pertaining to the history, manifestations, clinical course, and character of the particular injury or disease or residuals thereof. (2) History conforming to accepted medical principles should be given due consideration, in conjunction with basic clinical data, and be accorded probative value consistent with accepted medical and evidentiary principles in relation to value consistent with accepted medical evidence relating to incurrence, symptoms and course of the injury or disease, including official and other records made prior to, during or subsequent to service, together with all other lay and medical evidence concerning the inception, development and manifestations of the particular condition will be taken into full account. (3) Signed statements of veterans relating to the origin, or incurrence of any disease or injury made in service if against his or her own interest is of no force and effect if other data do not establish the fact. Other evidence will be considered as though such statement were not of record. (Authority: 10 U.S.C. 1219) (c) Development. The development of evidence in connection with claims for service connection will be accomplished when deemed necessary but it should not be undertaken when evidence present is sufficient for this determination. In initially rating disability of record at the time of discharge, the records of the service department, including the reports of examination at enlistment and the clinical records during service, will ordinarily suffice. Rating of combat injuries or other conditions which obviously had their inception in service may be accomplished pending receipt of copy of the examination at enlistment and all other service records. (d) Combat. Satisfactory lay or other evidence that an injury or disease was incurred or aggravated in combat will be accepted as sufficient proof of service connection if the evidence is consistent with the circumstances, conditions or hardships of such service even though there is no official record of such incurrence or aggravation. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1154(b))
  8. Years ago when I was doing my own research on my medical health, I contacted the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for as much information they could help me with and this is what they sent me. I was just cleaning my PC and thought that this may help other veterans. Of course there is a lot more on the site but I think this is a good start. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/ http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/vaccinations-medications.asp http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/sources/vaccinations.asp Hope this helps
  9. Just got new update in the mail. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/gulfwar/gulf-war-newsletter-march2015.pdf
  10. http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/new-va-scandal-cbs-news-finds-thousands-of-vets-benefit-claims-discarded/
  11. It is shameful that veterans of the United States military have to wait months, and sometimes more than a year, to begin receiving the benefits they are owed after their years of service. Yet that is the case. Almost 900,000 veterans across the country currently have claims pending for disability, pension or education benefits; nearly 600,000 of those claims are considered backlogged by the Department of Veterans Affairs — meaning they have already taken more than 125 days to process. According to a report released in March by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the average time a veteran must wait before receiving benefits is 273 days, although veterans filing their first claims wait an average of 316 to 327 days. Those filing for the first time in Los Angeles wait an average of 619 days, according to the report. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-vets-claims-backlog-20130331,0,4054036.story
  12. The Social Security Administration plans to streamline its review of disability claims for veterans starting next month, shaving weeks off the process by which it determines benefits, officials are set to announce Wednesday. The Woodlawn-based agency says it will expedite claims for former service members who already have been deemed fully disabled by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, alleviating a bureaucratic nightmare for veterans who sometimes waited years to get a decision about their eligibility for benefits. Carolyn W. Colvin, the acting commissioner of Social Security, is set to announce the policy change in Baltimore. The move would add disabled veterans to the list of high-priority groups — including service members wounded in combat — that are put at the head of the line for review. "It's a very good result for veterans who obviously made a tremendous commitment to their country," said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat who has pushed for the quicker review. "They're returning from overseas conflicts and they've suffered injuries that make it impossible for them to have gainful employment." It's not clear exactly how many people would be affected by the policy, but the Social Security Administration estimates it could be tens of thousands of veterans over time. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-veterans-ssa-20140218,0,3719630,print.story I know this has been posted somewhere on hadit but I feel more eyes will see it here.
  13. http://veteransforcommonsense.org/?p=3143 (91outcomes.com - June 5, 2014) - A Military Times article today cites VA data showing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has denied nearly 80 percent, or four out of five Gulf War Illness disability claims denied. [1] Today’s breaking news article also shows more than half of veterans denied for Gulf War Illness claims have been approved by VA for other conditions, demonstrating a VA bias against approving Gulf War Illness claims long alleged by ill Gulf War veterans. A full 38 percent (38%) of veterans filing Gulf War Illness claims had their claims denied entirely, both for Gulf War Illness and other conditions.
  14. http://veteransforcommonsense.org/ A new investigative report by NextGov’s Bob Brewin (“Hundreds of thousands of VA disability claims not processed”) shows that at least 228,000 veterans’ claims have been dropped by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) because they weren’t completed in time.
  15. Just Part of the Story. http://www.newsweek.com/sick-soliders-gulf-war-illness-clue-mystery-their-cells-238850 Experts suspect a variety of toxins could be linked to Gulf War Illness—from pesticides to the anthrax vaccine—but one likely culprit, Golomb says, is something that wasn’t an enemy weapon, or even an accidentally released chemical: the PB pill. The PB pill was given to troops by the U.S. Armed Forces in case of possible exposure to nerve agents—it was a preventative. The cure may have made them sick.
  16. Disability examinations of Gulf War veterans have unique requirements because this group of veterans is eligible for compensation not only for disability due to diagnosed illnesses, but also for disability due to undiagnosed illnesses. An undiagnosed illness is established when findings are present that cannot be attributed to a known, clearly defined diagnosis, after all likely diagnostic possibilities for such abnormalities have been ruled out. Examiners should follow the guidelines in the "Handout of Instructions for Compensation and Pension Examinations" but will also need to request more laboratory tests and specialists’ examinations than average in these cases. Guidelines 1. Thoroughly review the claims file. 2. Address all conditions and symptoms specified on the examination request and also address all additional conditions and symptoms that you can elicit from the veteran during the examination, even if not specified on the request form. 3. Conduct a comprehensive general medical examination, following the AMIE General Medical Examination worksheet. For all conditions and symptoms which the General Medical Examination worksheet does not address in detail, follow the appropriate additional AMIE worksheets, and request specialists’ examinations as indicated. Provide details about the onset, frequency, duration, and severity of all complaints and state what precipitates and what relieves them. 4. List all diagnosed conditions and state which symptoms, abnormal physical findings, and abnormal laboratory test results are associated with each. If all symptoms, abnormal physical findings, and abnormal laboratory test results are associated with a diagnosed condition, additional specialist examinations for diagnostic purposes are not needed. Diagnosed conditions will be handled as standard claims for service connection. Symptom-based "diagnoses" such as (but not limited to) myalgia, arthralgia, headache, and diarrhea, are not considered as diagnosed conditions for compensation purposes. 5. However, if there are symptoms, abnormal physical findings, or abnormal laboratory test results that have not been determined to be part of a known clinical diagnosis, further specialist examinations will be required to address these findings. 6. Provide the specialist with all examination reports and test results. Specify the symptoms, abnormal physical findings, and abnormal laboratory test results that have not been attributed to a known clinical diagnosis. Request that the specialist determine which of these, if any, can be attributed in this veteran to a known clinical diagnosis and which, if any, cannot be attributed in this veteran to a known clinical diagnosis. 7. After the specialists’ examinations have been completed, and all laboratory test results received, make a final report providing a list of diagnosed conditions. Separately list all symptoms, abnormal physical findings, and abnormal laboratory test results that cannot be attributed to a known clinical diagnosis. Reconcile all differences among the examiners, by consultation or workgroup as necessary, before the examination is returned to the regional office. If a veteran was treated for the symptoms of gulf war while still on active duty and have SMRs to prove it. Then he or she can be service connected for the diagnosed symptoms/illness. Keep in mind that these symptoms must be medically determined to be chronic. This post is not to start a debate or argument, just trying to pass information on.
  17. http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/2012_13_GWVI_TF_Annual_Report_Final.pdf Didn't have chance to read it all and just passing on.
  18. Disabled veterans might face new way to file claims By ruperte14·January 23, 2014·No comments Regional·Tagged: Department of Veterans Affairs, Disability, Veterans By Logan Hendrix The days of submitting disabilities claims on scraps of paper might be ending for veterans, including more than 800,000 in Virginia. A new proposal by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs would require veterans to use a standardized claim form. One veterans group says this will make the application process more difficult for disabled persons. VA Spokeswoman Genevieve Billia says the current application process is inefficient. The VA must sift through all the different scraps of paper, ultimately delaying benefits to veterans and their families. According to the VA, 400,000 veterans have been waiting more than 125 days for their informal claims to be accepted. The VA’s solution is to require veterans to fill out standardized applications, preferably electronically. National Veterans Service Deputy Director Gerald T. Manar is concerned that abandoning the decades-long practice of filing claims simply with a piece paper will pose a hardship for some veterans. “[The VA] is creating two classes of people: veterans who can submit things electronically, and those who can’t because they don’t have the resources or don’t have the ability to interact or drive to the VA,” said Manar. Under the proposed change, veterans who submit to the VA electronically would begin a claim simply by providing their name, Social Security number and a number of a bank account to which the benefits can be deposited. The VA will hold the date the electronic application is submitted for up to a year until veterans provide enough evidence to complete the process. Once accepted, the VA will grant aid from the original date the claim was submitted. But retroactive pay would not apply to veterans who submit incomplete hard-copy forms. Manar said he is worried that veterans submitting paper forms could lose months of benefits while they are corresponding with the VA. “In our view, it’s another way for the VA to reduce the amount of work it’s receiving and make it appear it’s showing improvement when in fact it’s changing the rules that make it harder for veterans to file a claim,” said Manar. “There’s no accountability,” he said, adding that the proposed change is “incredibly unfair” and “unnecessary.” The VA states that veterans can access computers at the closest VA facility; for veterans in Rockbridge County, that would be about 50 miles away in Salem. There is no set date for the proposal to be adopted. Once the VA makes a decision, the rule will be published in the Federal Register. If adopted, the changes would take effect 30 days later and apply only to future claims and appeals. http://rockbridgereport.washingtonandlee.net/?p=10552
  19. WASHINGTON — As Department of Veterans Affairs physician Nancy Klimas told an agency panel Tuesday about the many successful ways her clinic has been treating Gulf War illness, veterans have responded with a combination of hope and anger. The hope came because her clinic appears to be making headway in using research-based methods to treat veterans with the disease, which consists of symptoms ranging from headaches to memory loss to chronic fatigue, and plagues one in four of the 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq. The anger came because, although Klimas had been using at least some of her methods for a decade, none of them have been disseminated throughout the VA system for use in other clinics. Her testimony was part of the ongoing fight between Gulf War veterans, who believe the government is ignoring physical causes for their ailments, and the VA, which has been reluctant to support the veterans' claims. Klimas heads the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Miami, and she leads Gulf War Illness research at the VA Medical Center in Miami. She said she has asked her patients to be their own advocates because many physicians don't believe the illness is anything but psychiatric. Others, Klimas said, don't have time to read the training manual VA put out to help them care for Gulf War veterans, don't have more than 15 minutes to deal with each patient, or don't know how to refer them to specialty clinics where they can get care — and some simply don't care to learn. "That was a great presentation, but I can't resist adding that this information has been in the hands of Dr. Klimas for 12 years," said Jim Binns, chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, which met with VA officials Tuesday. For 23 years, Gulf War veterans have argued they were exposed to toxins, such as pesticides, insect repellents, anti-nerve agent pills and nerve agents that caused them to be sick. They've said they do not believe their ailments are due to stress because of the war's short duration and because the majority of troops were not exposed to the fighting. But until 1997, the VA focused on psychological disorders and not research to determine physical causes for the ailments. In 1997, Congress mandated Binns' committee after a congressional report found that the efforts to find causes and treatments for Gulf War illness by government agencies were "irreparably flawed." Binns said Klimas' use of research to create a plan to treat veterans is what should have happened at the top level. Robert Jesse, the VA's principal deputy undersecretary for health, said the agency was trying to develop a "medical home" program that would allow doctors to spend more time with specialty cases, such as those involving Gulf War illness. "This is a wholesale change in how we're approaching care in VA," Jesse said. Relations between the VA and Binns' committee have long been contentious and worsened last year when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki signed a directive ending the panel's independence and ruling that Binns' term would end this year. The board's budget was also reduced, and new members were appointed. New members of the board were at Tuesday's meeting. Jesse said the "new membership is a good balance of veteran representatives and good science." Some veterans activists disagreed that progress had been made. Julie Mock, who served as a dental hygienist in the war and was exposed to sarin gas released when the United States bombed a chemical factory, and who now suffers from Gulf War illness, said she feels the VA is violating Congress' intent. "There doesn't seem to be any accountability," she said after sitting in on the meeting. "Congress mandated this research, and now VA has reworked it to suit their needs." Binns said a House hearing last March in which a former VA epidemiologist claimed officials purposely hid or manipulated data to avoid paying Gulf War illness claims changed relations with the department. "We had three years of positive change," Binns said. "Then, abruptly, the wind shifted." Follow @kellyskennedy on Twitter. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/07/va-doc-provides-treatments-that-work-for-gulf-war-vets-not-available-elsewhere/4357309/
  20. WASHINGTON — With Congress back this week, veterans groups are vowing to resume their fight against trims to military retirement benefits. But what they’re really fighting for is relevancy, and to make sure the country hasn’t forgotten about them. Military advocates worry that Congress’ willingness to attack veterans’ retirement checks shows that lawmakers — and perhaps the public — have already moved on from the wars of the last decade, and that the sacrifices and promises made will be forgotten. “This is what happens when you have an unengaged population whose focus starts to shift away,” said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “When times get tough, people say everyone has to sacrifice. But not everyone has been sacrificing for the last 10 years.” Read the full article: http://www.stripes.com/veterans-groups-worry-retirement-cut-is-just-the-first-step-1.260750?=&utm_source=Stars+and+Stripes+Emails&utm_campaign=Daily+Headlines&utm_medium=email Don't worry the sky is not falling
  21. More than 171,000 military retirees and family members booted from Tricare Prime on Oct. 1 when the Defense Department cut coverage areas for its managed health program could get their old health plans back under the compromise 2014 defense bill under consideration in the House and Senate. The bill contains a "one-time election to continue enrollment in Tricare Prime" for affected beneficiaries — a proposal floated in May by Reps. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and John Kline, R-Minn., after constituents in their districts learned they would lose the option to stay in Prime. The $632.8 billion compromise bill, which still requires approval in the House and Senate before it becomes law, would allow beneficiaries a one-time chance to stay in Prime as long as they continue living in the same ZIP code where they opted into Prime. The Pentagon reduced the availability of the Tricare Prime managed-care program to locations within 40 miles of an active or former military base on Oct 1, forcing 171,000 retirees and family members to switch to Tricare Standard, a traditional fee-for-service health care program with higher out-of-pocket costs than Prime. The Pentagon said shrinking Prime will save the government $45 million to $65 million a year, based on estimates that DoD pays an average of $600 more per year to provide Prime to a beneficiary than Standard. But affected beneficiaries felt abandoned by the system, given that the Pentagon began planning in 2007 to reduce its Prime service areas but did not publicize the change. Media reports in October 2012 alerted both affected beneficiaries and lawmakers to the pending reduction. In a summary of the compromise bill released Monday, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, said committee members believe health care for retired service members is "a benefit earned through prior service to our nation." "Promises made should be promises kept, and the Pentagon should not break faith with our nation's heroes," Kline said earlier this year after proposing the legislation. The compromise defense bill, which authorizes $32.9 billion for the defense health program, includes no significant increases in health care fees for military retirees and their families. Lawmakers rejected White House efforts to raise fees markedly for retirees on Tricare Prime and create new fees for working-age retirees on Tricare Standard as well as for Medicare-eligible retirees and their families on Tricare for Life. According to a House Armed Services Committee release, lawmakers believe that recent reforms, such as allowing Tricare Prime fees and pharmacy costs to be raised yearly in proportion to the annual cost of living increase, place Tricare on a "sustainable path" and new fees are unnecessary. "The [Defense Department's] record of incorrectly calculating Tricare costs and their repeated requests to transfer billions in unused funds out of the program to cover other underfunded defense priorities raises questions about repeated claims by the Defense Department that the defense health program is unsustainable," the release states. Other provisions in the bill include requirements for: ¦The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to develop and implement policies on treating and helping service members who have sustained severe injuries to their reproductive and urinary tract systems. ¦DoD to carry out a pilot program for clinical trials of investigational treatments of brain injury and PTSD at non-military facilities. ¦DoD and VA to establish and deploy an integrated electronic health record system by Dec. 31, 2016. http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/military/2013/12/11/tricare-prime-retirees-may-be-allowed-back/3986293/
  22. Proposed Information Collection (Open Burn Pit Registry Airborne Hazard Self-Assessment Questionnaire) Activity: Comment Request https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/05/2013-13224/proposed-information-collection-open-burn-pit-registry-airborne-hazard-self-assessment-questionnaire
  23. http://www.military.com/benefits/2013/06/13/55k-retirees-due-back-pay-might-never-see-it.html
  24. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/31/reporter-explains-complete-dysfunctionality-of-veterans-affairs-disability-backlog/ During an appearance on MSNBC, Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting explained why the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was failing to process so many disability benefits claims. “The central problem facing the VA is that they’re not able to deal with this flood of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming home at the same time that a lot of Vietnam veterans are finally being allowed to claim illnesses caused by Agent Orange,” he said. “This is a paperwork problem. You know, they have so much paperwork that they just simply can’t put it through.” Glantz reported earlier this month that the number of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits increased more than 2,000 percent from 2009 to 2012. There are currently about 900,000 veterans waiting to receive their benefits.
  25. found on: http://www.stripes.com/news/us/veterans-backlog-we-have-a-fix-1.213580?=&utm_source=Stars+and+Stripes+Emails&utm_campaign=Daily+Headlines&utm_medium=email
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