The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United is saluting today’s [last week’s] decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to begin accepting disability claims from veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange-contaminated aircraft in the post-Vietnam era. The decision by VA Secretary Bob McDonald could now benefit as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who might suffer from any of 14 presumptive medical conditions that have been determined to be related to Agent Orange exposure.
The VA secretary made the decision to expand benefits following a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine on Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. The report found evidence that those who served aboard or worked on the C-123 aircraft were exposed to the herbicide, both during and after Vietnam, when many of the aircraft remained in service for aeromedical transportation or in a mosquito abatement role back in the U.S.
“The VFW has been pushing for this decision for years,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, “because something inside these aircraft was making people sick years after the plane last flew a defoliating mission in Vietnam. We thank the Institute of Medicine for determining a contributing link between exposure and the 14 medical conditions, and Secretary McDonald for making a quick call to care for more veterans.”
All airmen who were assigned to flight, ground or medical crew duties at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (the 906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadrons), at Massachusetts’s Westover AFB (the 731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron), or with the 758th Airlift Squadron in Pittsburgh, during the period 1969 to 1986, and who may have developed an Agent Orange-related disability, are encouraged to file a disability compensation claim through the VA’s eBenefits web portal (https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/), or to seek the free and expert assistance of a national VFW Service Officer at http://www.vfw.org/NVS/.
Read more about the today’s [last week’s] decision at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/20825/va-expands-disability-benefits-for-air-force-personnel-exposed-to-contaminated-c-123-aircraft/.
Washington – The federal initiative to provide timely decisions on disability payments to Veterans has crossed a major milestone in its final sprint to eliminate the backlog of Veterans’ benefits claims.
The major transformation effort to apply new technology and process solutions has paid off at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It reduced its inventory of backlogged claims from a high of 611,000 claims in March of 2013 to fewer than 200,000 this week, while at the same time improving decision quality.
“Make no mistake, we’re not slowing down short of the finish line,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey. “Our goal is to eliminate the claims backlog by the end of 2015 – meaning all Veterans will receive timely and accurate decisions on their disability claims.”
Hickey credited a combination of factors for the 67-percent drop in backlog: first, the extra hours of work put in by dedicated benefits claims processors across the nation, who have worked evenings, Saturdays and Sundays to drive the backlog down; as well as procedural efficiencies backed by powerful automation tools and paperless claims processing. In addition, she cited the transformation of Veterans Benefits Administration’s training and quality assurance programs resulting in steady increases in the accuracy of decisions.
Just a few years ago, claims processors handled 5,000 tons of paper annually, an amount equivalent to 200 Empire State Buildings. In less than two years, VA converted claims processing to a 21st Century digital environment where claims for VA benefits and services can be submitted and processed, and benefits delivered, online.
Veterans increasingly are filing claims electronically from the start at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov. Veterans can submit their applications online, upload their supporting documentation, and check the status of their claim through a multi-channel Web portal boasting nearly 60 self-service features.
(via VA Press Release)
Veterans may also visit their local VFW Post for assistance with their claims process.
Several headlines from the Department of Veterans Affairs in recent days. Click the links to read the full stories.
Statement from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on the American Jobs Act – Shinseki comments on the proposed Act which includes support for veteran jobs.
VA Announces Expansion of Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will expand its pilot for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), which enables sharing of Veterans’ health records.
VA Streamlines Online Applications for Health Benefits Renewal – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has automated its online Health Benefits Renewal (10-10EZR) form as part of its ongoing effort to streamline access to benefits.
VA Posts Online List of Ships Associated with Presumptive Agent Orange Exposure – Veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships operating on the waters of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, may be eligible to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation for 14 medical conditions associated with presumptive exposure to Agent Orange.
WASHINGTON (March 18, 2008) — To support veterans and their families during major emergencies, especially natural disasters, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun to deploy mobile pharmacies that will provide vital medicine when patients are unable to fill their prescriptions. VA will also open up the facilities to help communities during major disasters and other emergencies.
"The mobile pharmacies give VA the ability to provide critical medications to veterans when disaster strikes," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "VA is committed to ensuring our veterans receive their care and prescriptions as soon as possible during an emergency."
Each VA mobile pharmacy is housed in a 40-foot-long solid steel trailer built to withstand winds in a Category 3 storm. The units include a satellite connection with VA's Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy system, a computerized, automated state-of-the-art mailout pharmacy that can process more than 1,000 prescriptions hourly.
Pharmacists can use the satellite system to obtain a veteran's prescription data to dispense the drugs on site. In addition, VA can send replacement medications during an emergency by mail or another carrier to a veteran's home or temporary address.
VA recognized the need for mobile pharmacies in 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita severely damaged VA medical centers along the Gulf Coast. The Department deployed several mobile medical clinics as part
of its response to the disasters.
WASHINGTON — A new edition of the popular handbook Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) updates the rates for certain federal payments and outlines a variety of programs and benefits for American veterans.
Most of the nation's 24 million veterans qualify for some VA benefits, which range from health care to burial in a national cemetery. In addition to describing benefits provided by VA, the 2008 edition of the 153-page booklet provides an overview of programs and services for veterans provided by other federal agencies.
Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents includes resources to help veterans access their benefits, with a listing of toll-free phone numbers, Internet addresses and a directory of VA facilities throughout the country. The handbook can be downloaded free from VA's Web site at http://www.va.gov/OPA/vadocs/current_benefits.asp.
To read more or get information about ordering printed copies, click here.