Veterans Crisis Line

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is unique because all of our members have served overseas in a combat zone. Our nation is in debt to all of those who served, and we understand that returning home and reintegrating into society can cause stress in many aspects of life. Because of this, VFW is participating in a campaign with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to increase awareness of the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1). 

The campaign revolves around the confidential Veterans Crisis Line (formerly the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline), establishing a unique identity designed to lower the threshold for Veterans and their families to make that critical call for help. 

The line, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, has answered more than 390,000 calls and has made more than 13,000 life-saving rescues since its launch. 

The campaign is a national outreach effort to increase awareness and use of the confidential Veterans Crisis Line and online chat service, support and promote broader VA suicide prevention efforts, and promote help-seeking behaviors among Veterans.

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VFW to Stream Video from Legislative Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo., -Due to overwhelming response from the veteran community following last year's live stream from the 110th VFW National Convention, VFW will stream live from this year's National Legislative Conference, March 6-10.

Streaming will begin with the Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on March 7th.

Streaming will resume with the Conference's Opening Session, set to begin at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, featuring guest speakers General George W. Casey, Jr., Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.

A delayed stream of VFW Commander-in-Chief, Thomas Tradewell's testimony on Capitol Hill will also air the afternoon of Tuesday, March 9.

In addition to streaming the segments live, all events will also be available on demand.

(Via VFW.org)

VFW Applauds VA, National Security Budget Requests

WASHINGTON – The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is applauding President Obama for submitting a fiscal year 2011 budget that strengthens defense and national security, and boosts programs for veterans, servicemembers and their families.

Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis., said the president's vision tracks with key VFW legislative goals that advocate for a strong and secure America, and for ensuring that those who serve in uniform are properly cared for by a grateful nation.

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The $60.3 billion discretionary funding request for the Department of Veterans Affairs is 7 percent above 2010 and 20 percent above 2009 funding levels. Key initiatives are to hire 4,000 additional adjudicators to shrink the disability claims backlog; to reduce the homeless veterans' population; to construct new medical facilities in Denver and New Orleans; and to maintain a robust information technology program that will enable a 21st century VA to fully automate its GI Bill benefits system and create a seamless electronic record for military members entering the VA system. Other notable recommendations would enhance women veterans' programs; increase specialized care for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and other mental health conditions; and expand the national cemetery system into areas where 80,000 veterans reside within 75 miles of a potential VA cemetery. Also included for the first time was a request for $50.6 billion in advanced appropriations for the VA's fiscal 2012 budget.

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White House Seeks $125 Billion for Veterans in 2011

WASHINGTON – To expand health care to a record-number of Veterans, reduce the number of homeless Veterans and process a dramatically increased number of new disability compensation claims, the White House has announced a proposed $125 billion budget next year for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Our budget proposal provides the resources necessary to continue our aggressive pursuit of President Obama's two over-arching goals for Veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "First, the requested budget will help transform VA into a 21st century organization.  And second, it will ensure that we approach Veterans' care as a lifetime initiative, from the day they take their oaths until the day they are laid to rest."

The $125 billion budget request, which has to be approved by Congress, includes $60.3 billion for discretionary spending (mostly health care) and $64.7 billion in mandatory funding (mostly for disability compensation and pensions).

"VA's 2011 budget request covers many areas but focuses on three central issues that are of critical importance to our Veterans – easier access to benefits and services, faster disability claims decisions, and ending the downward spiral that results in Veterans' homelessness," Shinseki said.

Reducing Claims Backlog

The president's budget proposal includes an increase of $460 million and more than 4,000 additional claims processors for Veterans benefits.  This is a 27 percent funding increase over the 2010 level.

The 1,014,000 claims received in 2009 were a 75 percent increase over the 579,000 received in 2000.  Shinseki said the Department expects a 30 percent increase in claims – to 1,319,000 – in 2011 from 2009 levels.

One reason for the increase is VA's expansion of the number of Agent Orange-related illnesses that automatically qualify for disability benefits.  Veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicides during the Vietnam War are likely to file additional claims that will have a substantial impact upon the processing system for benefits, the secretary said.

"We project significantly increased claims inventories in the near term while we make fundamental improvements to the way we process disability compensation claims," Shinseki said.

Long-term reduction of the inventory will come from additional manpower, improved business practices, plus an infusion of $145 million in the proposed budget for development of a paperless claims processing system, which plays a significant role in the transformation of VA.

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VFW Washington Weekly – January 22, 2010

In This Issue:
1. VFW Presents Legislative Goals
2. House VA Committee Hearings
3. Relief for GI Bill Payments Coming
4. Vets Employment Initiative Launched
 
1. VFW Presents Legislative Goals: The VFW presented its Top 5 legislative goals this week at a House Veterans Affairs Committee roundtable.  The issues we want Congress to highlight this year are the claims backlog, employment and training, oversight of VA health care, and military-to-veteran transition issues, to include education.  Committee members acknowledged that the VA claims backlog is among their top priorities, and they intend to hold oversight hearings on viable fixes to the critical problem.  The VFW's 2010 legislative priority goals can be viewed at http://www.vfw.org/PR/Legislative/2010PriorityGoals%20PROOF.pdf.

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