National Cemetery Administration
“The mission of the National Cemetery Administration is to provide final resting places for their families that commemorate the service and sacrifice of our Veterans”, said Ron Walters, Acting Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, National Cemetery Administration. “No place is the price of freedom more evident than in a VA national cemetery.” Learn more about the National Cemetery Administration: www.cem.va.gov/
New Death Confirmation Policy
The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented a new policy change that affects all veterans. The VA is currently in the process of updating its procedure to request further confirmation of a veteran’s death before it terminates any and all payments to the veteran. Basically, the process will now involve more exhaustive confirmation of a veteran’s death before payments are stopped. For instance, when VA officials believe that a veteran has died, the VA will send a letter to his or her address on file and request confirmation of the death from a surviving family member. If the VA doesn't receive a response from the family — or from a veteran erroneously believed to be dead — only then will the VA terminate payments permanently.
Veterans Who Receive Separation Pay Will Not Receive VA Compensation
Under federal law, until veterans pay back their involuntary separation pay, they can have their VA disability compensation withheld. The reason for this is due to 10 USC 1174, a federal law precluding duplication of benefits. The law requires that the VA recoup military separation benefits paid by the Department of Defense in cases where a veteran is subsequently awarded VA compensation. VA disability benefits can be withheld if a veteran receives readjustment pay, non-disability severance pay, separation pay, reservist involuntary separation pay, special separation benefits, voluntary separation pay, or disability severance pay. The VA is required to withhold some or all of a veteran’s monthly compensation until recoupment is complete. The process can take months or years to complete.
[Source: U.S. Veteran Compensation Programs July 2017]
Department of the Navy
Name Change Proposed
A North Carolina congressman is continuing in his quest to rename the Department of the Navy, reports the Jacksonville Daily News. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones has been trying to rebrand the department as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps since 2001, according to the Daily News. Sixteen years later, the
rebranding is included as an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018. Jones is a member of the committee. “The Marine Corps is an equal member of this department, and therefore, deserves equal recognition in its title,” Jones said in a statement. Not all of Jones’ constituents are in favor of the name change, however. Some see it as merely a symbolic change and an empty gesture that won’t impact the relationship between the Navy and the Marines. “Why change the name? What does it achieve? At the end, I can’t think of anything that would improve the stature of the Marine Corps,” Retired Marine Col. Pete Grimes, who lives in Jones’ district, told the Daily News. The House is expected to vote on the defense bill later this month, said Jones.
[Source: NavyTimes Peter Rathmell July 2017]
David Shulkin says, “We are ramping up internal VA capacity along with private referrals. Critics don’t want to lose all that VA has to offer. I don’t either, and we won’t. As a physician, my professional assessment is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress over the past six months – but it still requires intensive care. In order to restore the VA’s health, we must strengthen its ability to provide timely and high quality medical care while improving experiences and outcomes for veterans. I believe the best way to achieve this goal is to build an integrated system that allows veterans to get the best health care possible, whether it comes from the VA or the private sector.”
This is not a novel idea. No health care provider delivers every treatment under the sun. Referral programs for patients to get care through outside providers (known as Choice or Community Care at the VA) are as essential to the medical profession as stethoscopes and tongue depressors. But VA attempts to offer veterans these options have frequently stirred controversy. Some critics complain that letting veterans choose where they get certain health care services will lead to the privatization of VA. Nothing could be further from the truth. VA has had a community care program for years. Congress significantly expanded these efforts in 2014 in response to the wait time crisis. As a result, since the beginning of this year, VA has authorized over 18 million community care appointments &ndash 3.8 million more than last year, or a 26% increase, according to the VA claims system.
But as VA’s community care efforts have grown, so has our capacity to deliver care in-house. The VA budget is nearly four times what it was in 2001. Since then, the department’s workforce has grown from some 224,000 employees in 2001 to more than 370,000 to