Feb 25

Veterans Eligible for Payments in VA Data Theft Case

(via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge [earlier this month] approved the government's plans to pay a total of $20 million to veterans exposed to possible identity theft in 2006, calling it a welcome deal to settle lawsuits after a Veterans Affairs employee lost a laptop containing their sensitive personal information.

The payments will range from $75 to $1,500 for up to 26.5 million veterans who incurred out of pocket expenses for credit monitoring or physical symptoms of emotional distress. In exchange, lawyers for the veterans agreed to drop their class-action lawsuit alleging invasion of privacy in a case involving the government's largest data security breach.

"Thank you, to the government in particular, for the $20 million," said U.S. District Judge James Robertson. "Everyone has got to like this."

The judge's move [this month] means that lawyers will now notify veterans of the settlement in newspapers and magazines around the country. Once veterans submit their claims, lawyers for both sides will return to court in July for final approval for the payments.

Continue reading AP Story

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/veterans-eligible-for-payments-in-va-data-theft-case/

Feb 21

VFW Washington Weekly – February 20, 2009

In This Issue
1. Support Needed for Advance Funding Bill
2. Final Stimulus Includes Funding for VA
3. Afghanistan Force Deployment
1. Support Needed for Advance Funding Bill: Senate VA Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) reintroduced advance funding legislation last week that is a VFW priority goal.  The bill, "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009," currently has 10 cosponsors in the Senate for S. 423, and 18 cosponsors in the House for HR 1016, but many more are needed to get the bill moving.  Please contact your senators and representatives and ask them to sign-on to the bill.  Remind your elected officials that advance funding will enable the VA to better serve all veterans using the system. 
To read the VFW press release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4924
To contact your congressional members, go to: http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/

Read more VFW Washington Weekly

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-february-20-2009/

Feb 13

VFW Washington Weekly – February 13, 2009

In This Issue:
1. Advance Funding Bill Reintroduced
2. Senate Holds VA Appeals Process Hearing
3. FY 2010 Independent Budget Now Online
4. TRICARE for Retired Reserve

2. Senate Holds VA Appeals Process Hearing: The Senate VA Committee held a hearing to examine ideas that could improve the timeliness of claims at the appeals level, as well as the relationship between the Board and the Court.  According to witnesses, the complexity of the appeal process adds months and sometimes years to the timeliness of a decision, and increases the workload at every level.  One witness said about 100,000 appeals were generated from the VA's 824,844 claims decisions in 2007.  In 2009, it is estimated 132,000 appeals will be created from the 942,700 claims decisions VA will make this year.  Members of the Committee questioned the need for drastic changes to include a military style "surge" to decrease claims decisions.  Other ideas discussed were holding federal workers more accountable for errors, and shortening deadlines for filing and ruling, to include reducing the amount of time a veteran has to appeal a case.  For more on the hearing, visit the Senate committee website at: http://veterans.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?pageid=16&release_id=11839&view=all.

Read all of VFW Washington Weekly

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-february-13-2009/

Feb 12

VFW Applauds Reintroduction of Advance Funding Legislation

WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2009) — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is applauding the chairmen of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees for reintroducing advance funding legislation for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"The VA has had to cope with far too many budgets that came too late to adequately meet the needs at hand," said Glen M. Gardner, Jr., a Vietnam veteran who leads the 2.2 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries.  "We applaud Senate VA Committee chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and House VA Committee chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) for reintroducing this legislation into the 111th Congress.  It will greatly improve the quality of healthcare the VA provides for America's veterans."

The "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009," which the two chairmen are scheduled to unveil at a Capitol Hill press conference today, will require Congress to approve a VA budget a full year ahead of time, instead of just for the upcoming fiscal year, as is the current practice.

The VA budget is one of 12 major spending packages that are on the congressional agenda every year, but despite being more than seven years into a war, the VA has only received one on-time budget in the past 12 years.  Gardner calls this unacceptable, because late funding negatively impacts operations, and can lead to the reduction or elimination of vital programs, such as mental health and traumatic brain injury research and treatment, or recruitment programs for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers.

Read more

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-applauds-reintroduction-of-advance-funding-legislation/

Feb 10

VSO's Call for Increase In Veterans Healthcare Funding

WASHINGTON, DC., Feb.9, 2009—Four of the nation's leading veterans service organizations are urging the new Administration and Congress to invest $54.6 billion, an increase of $3.6 billion over last year, to adequately meet veterans' healthcare and benefits needs.

The recommendation is contained in The Independent Budget (IB)– www.independentbudget.org –a full picture of veterans' needs and funding recommendations, by veterans for veterans.

"We urge President Obama to adopt The Independent Budget's recommendations when his first budget is released later this year. We need sufficient, timely and predictable funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical and benefits system to ensure that those who have served and sacrificed get all the services they have earned and deserve," said Randy L. Pleva, Sr., national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "It's good for veterans. It's good for the economy. It's good for America."

The Independent Budget—an annual comprehensive budget and policy document co-authored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)—includes recommendations of $46.6 billion for health care, $575 million for prosthetic research, $1.6 billion for benefits processing, and nearly $2 billion for major and minor construction. To deliver sufficient, timely and predictable resources in the future, the IB recommends that Congress convert veterans' healthcare funding to an advance appropriations process. This will ensure that VA will always have access to its funding on time.

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vsos-call-for-increase-in-veterans-healthcare-funding/

Feb 06

February Survey

From last month's survey:

Respondents offered a number of ideas to get the word out about the organization, focusing mainly on mass advertising and publicity:

  •  "I notice that the Tourism Dept. has information centers and pamphlet stands throughout the country. Perhaps we could put an "informational rack" in all our post offices or banks to inform vets and families of the programs available to them."
  •  "Put information in local newspapers and arrange radio time to tell area veterans or families of veterans."
  •  "Work with the services to introduce troops to the VFW at the beginning of their service. I served in the Marines for five years, and I did not find out much about the VFW until I was at the end of my contract."

See more results

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/february-survey/

Feb 06

Death Claims Oldest Living VFW Commander-in-Chief

Clyde Lewis, VFW Commander-in-Chief, 1949-1950 died Feb. 4, 2009, at Plattsburgh, N.Y

Lewis, an attorney, was the first World War II veteran to attain the highest office in a major U.S. veterans organization. He was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Golden Jubilee Convention in Miami, Florida in 1949.

He became active in the VFW immediately after separation from service when he joined Post 125 in Plattsburgh in September 1945. He held important elective and appointive offices in the Post, County Council and Department of New York. He was elected Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief in 1947 and Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief in 1948. He was a member of the National Legislative Committee, 1946-47, and since that time has served on many national committees. For more than 35 years he has served as chairman/vice chairman of the VFW Employee's Retirement Board.

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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/death-claims-oldest-living-vfw-commander-in-chief/

Feb 01

VFW Washington Weekly – January 30, 2009

In This Issue:
1. VFW Testifies on Veteran Priorities
2. New FY2010 Independent Budget Available Tuesday
3. Army Recalls Body Armor

1. VFW Testifies on Veteran Priorities: 
VFW participated in a House VA Committee roundtable discussion on legislative goals for the 111th Congress.  The group of 36 organizations discussed five issues of concern: advance appropriations for veterans' healthcare, fixing disability compensation, improving mental health, implementing the new GI Bill on Aug. 1, and smoothing the transition from military to civilian life.  Another topic of concern was that of allowing veterans to qualify for VA healthcare during these hard economic times.  VFW asked Congress to ensure that VA's eligibility waiver program — which allows VA to consider economic hardship such as the loss of a job when determining health care eligibility — is applied fairly throughout the country so that those who need VA can access it.

Read more VFW Washington Weekly

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-january-30-2009/

Jan 30

Gould To Be Nominated for VA Deputy Secretary

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2009) – Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki praised President Barack Obama's intent to nominate W. Scott Gould as next Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Gould is currently vice president for public sector strategy at IBM Global Business Services and a former intelligence officer in the naval reserve. He has public service experience at both the departments of Commerce and Treasury.

Shinseki said, "Scott and I share a reverence for those who have served in uniform. He is fully committed to fulfilling President Obama's vision and my goals for transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st Century organization, and he understands the fundamentals that will drive that transformation: Veteran-centric, results-oriented and forward looking."

Shinseki further said that Gould possesses a unique and wide-ranging set of skills in information technologies, acquisition, budget, human resources and leading the modernization of large, complex organizations. "Scott's expertise in these areas, as well as his broad experience in the public sector, the private sector and the military, will prove invaluable for better serving our Veterans," Shinseki added.

Read more

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/gould-to-be-nominated-for-va-deputy-secretary/

Jan 26

VFW Washington Weekly – January 23, 2009

1. Senate Confirms Two Key Cabinet Members
2. Committee Assignments Begin
3. VFW Says Closing GITMO Not Prudent

1. Senate Confirms Two Key Cabinet Members: The Senate signed off on many of President Obama's cabinet members this week.  Among those confirmed were VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Shinseki has promised to begin work on several high priority items during his first days in office. Among them is the implementation of GI Bill benefits, streamlining disability claims, and modernizing the delivery of benefits, to include working with DOD on seamless transition for newly discharged veterans.

Read more Washington Weekly

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8696/general/vfw-washington-weekly-january-23-2009/

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