Author Archives: Fred Wellman

Veterans Roundup: VA Has 100-Day Reform Plan, Fallacy of Military Reunion Videos

McDonald Launches 100-day VA Reform Plan
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. VA secretary McDonald recently announced a new initiative, “Road to Veterans Day,” to help rebrand and reform the VA, whose culture has been described as closed and unfriendly. McDonald’s reform initiatives are a reaction to the recent VA scandal and although an audit by the Inspector General found no direct link between VA wait times and veteran deaths, they did find employee-manipulated wait times and are questioning the role VA leaders played in these abuses. Last week, Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that assists injured post-9/11 veterans, released survey results about its members’ challenges with VA

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Veterans Roundup: Thousands of Veterans May be Added to VA Backlog, Employment Numbers Looking Up

New Rules May Allow Benefits Long Denied to Vietnam-Era Veterans
Dave Philipps (@David_Phillips), New York Times. On Wednesday, the Defense Department released new guidelines for military discharge review boards and addressing post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, many Vietnam-era veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges and suffered from PTSD symptoms may be eligible for discharge upgrades and new access to benefits. The conversation began when a group of Vietnam veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America filed a class action lawsuit claiming the military denied upgrades to veterans whose cases involved PTSD. The lawsuit estimates that 250,000 Vietnam-era veterans received other than honorable discharges and up to 80,000 of those veterans…

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Veterans Roundup: President Promises Mental Health Care Fixes, DOD Looking at Overhead

CBO: Why VA Claims Exploded and Ways to Slow the Trend
Tom Philpott, (@Military_Update), Stars and Stripes. A new report by the Congressional Budget Office explains why even though the population of America’s veterans has decreased significantly in recent years, the number of veterans receiving disability compensation has significantly increased. The reason for this disconnect is not because more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are claiming disability, but is the result of looser “service connected” ailment disability compensation requirements particularly among Vietnam War veterans, an expanded VA list of diseases linked to Agent Orange, a weak labor market, increased outreach to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and a looser definition of…

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Veterans Roundup: Manufacturing for Troops, Jobs for Troops

VA Private Referrals on Rise
Adrian Sainz, The Associated Press. Until the VA can get its systems up to capacity, it’s sending an increasing number of veterans to private doctors. Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said that the VA would need about 1,000 new doctors, nurses, and clerks at the Phoenix hospital alone to improve the VA’s capacity. The $16.3 billion VA bill signed by President Obama last week dedicates $10 billion to subsidize the cost of private doctors and $5 billion to hire new VA health care professionals. McDonald is making gains in other aspects of the VA as well, this week he works to…

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Veterans Roundup: Short-term VA Fix Could Become Long-Term Mess, Back to the Future: Iraq

Disability Payments to Veterans More than Doubled Since 2000
Erica E. Phillips (@eephillips_wsj), The Wall Street Journal. On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report about the VA’s disability payments since 2000. Payments have increased from $20 billion in 2000 to $54 billion in 2013. Although the report attributes the payment increases to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of Vietnam-era veterans receiving benefits has increased by 60% since 2000 as well. The increase also raises concerns that some veterans are faking or exaggerating PTSD symptoms to receive benefits. Because PTSD is hard to define, and diagnosis depends on personal testimony from veterans, it has become…

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