Hopefully you’ll never need it. Sadly many do. Here’s what to say to a veteran considering suicide.
Veterans Affairs and Veterans News from HadIt.com
Curated by Theresa "Tbird" Aldrich
The number of backlogged veterans benefits claims is rising again.
Veterans Affairs officials insist it’s only a temporary problem, due to an unexpected rise in the number of new cases that flooded into the system over the last few months. They’re confident the 30,000-case increase in the backlog since last fall will be brought back down again in coming weeks.
But to do that, they’re also instituting mandatory overtime for claims processors for the fourth year in a row, a practice that in the past has raised questions about whether VA officials have enough capacity to handle the ever-increasing number of benefits cases.
All area veterans can now use RideKC transit for free with valid identification in a new program announced Monday at the National World War I Museum. A newly illustrated "Honor Our Veterans" bus will travel around town to raise awareness of the program. Jill Toyoshiba The Kansas City Star
The spending plan would expand an Obama administration program that Congress approved after the wait-times scandal to allow veterans to see private doctors, with VA requesting an additional $3.5 billion from Congress to continue the “Veterans Choice” option.
Other new spending would cover programs that keep veterans out of homeless shelters and help them transition from military to civilian life.
The budget offers few specifics on how the agency would spend the extra money. But some of it would continue investments underway to modernize VA’s antiquated benefit claims system, which has accumulated a large backlog in appeals. Some claims still are handled on paper.
The VA suicide hotline is still sending nearly a third of calls to outside back-up centers despite pledges by Veterans Affairs officials to stop the practice last year after a scathing report found the centers had routed veterans to voicemail, an inspector general investigation found.
The VA opened a new call center and hired more staff to answer phones, but as of November, 30% of calls — or 14,600 that month — rolled over to backup centers.
The move marks the first time a VA secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on expanding access to former service members with other-than-honorable discharges who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, Republican from North Carolina, demands answers about how the Marine Corps can punish retired and non-active-duty Marines who posted nude photos of women online and made sexually violent comments on Facebook about female Marines, including at least one at Camp Lejeune.
Over a hundred veterans who are motorcycle riders came together to help one of their own.
Robert Dickinson lost everything, including his three dogs, in a fire at the end of February.
It’s been rough going ever since.
“Did you expect veterans in our community to step like this for you,” asked reporter Kody Fisher.
“No. I just expected to keep building. Doing what I do,” said Dickinson.
Help was right around the corner.
Veterans and their dependents who have questions concerning Veteran's Administration claims, appeals and health care can voice those concerns in late March in Wilmington.
In cooperation with Congressman David Rouzer and the VA regional office in Winston-Salem, District 9 of the American Legion is sponsoring a veterans benefits action center for all veterans and family members March 30-31 and April 1 at American Legion Post 10, located at 702 Pine Grove Drive.
Thursday and Friday hours are 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Veterans whose social security numbers end in 00-33 should try to attend Thursday, those with numbers ending in 34-66 should attend Friday and those whose numbers end in 67-99 should attend Saturday.
Questions about claims, benefits and other topics will be answered at this meeting.
Three veterans bills up for House vote this week
Contact your representative today
On March 8, the House Veterans Affairs Committee sent three bills to the full House which The American Legion supports. They will be voted on later this week. Please take a moment to send the prepared e-mail to your legislators to seek their support for these bills.
H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, introduced by Chairman Phil Roe, M.D., would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from considering any beneficiary who is assisted by a fiduciary as "mentally defective" without a magistrate or judicial authority ruling that the beneficiary is a danger to themselves or others.
The American Legion has always been a stalwart defender of 2nd Amendment rights and believes it is wrong for veterans and beneficiaries who need help managing their financial affairs to lose their 2nd Amendment rights without due process. Veterans deserve the best mental healthcare available, but the threat of losing their 2nd Amendment rights is a disincentive to those who would benefit from treatment.
H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, introduced by Chairman Roe, would provide the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for performance or misconduct.
H.R. 1367, introduced by Rep. Wenstrup, would improve the authority of the VA Secretary “to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.” It would establish a recruiting database to make high-quality potential employees aware of positions at VA and create opportunities for career training and advancement for current VA employees through fellowship positions and a promotional track for technical experts.
The American Legion also supports efforts to provide the VA secretary the authority to better manage all employees, and hold them accountable when they fail to perform their duties in a manner befitting of a federal servant. Just as essential are continued efforts to address the recruitment and retention challenges at VA. We’re pleased to see both of these bills move together because VA can’t fire its way to excellence, but must also be given the tools to hire and retain a workforce worthy of this nation’s veterans.
All Legionnaires, concerned citizens, veterans and their families are asked to contact their representatives and urge them to support this legislation.
(If received by email, scroll up and click the Take Action link, otherwise see below and send a prepared message to your representative.)
They say the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced earlier this week, is a fresh approach that resolves past concerns with previous legislation — and serves as a tool that would make it easier for the VA secretary to fire or discipline employees.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that VA building its own software products and doing its own software development inside is not a good way to pursue this—we need to move towards commercially tested products,” Shulkin said. “If somebody could explain to me why veterans benefit from VA being a good software developer, then maybe I would change my mind. But right now, we should focus on the things veterans need us to focus on and work with companies that know how to do this better than we do.”
Sitting in a college math class, a former Marine waits patiently to get back his test. The professor addresses the class as the corrected exams are distributed.
“If you didn’t do well on this test, you should just quit now and join the Marines,” the professor says, not realizing this comment is offensive to the student Marine sitting right there in the room.
This is just one of many stories that Zach DuBord, assistant director of student veteran services at Binghamton University, has heard from student veterans. Military veterans face steep challenges when trying to reintegrate themselves in school after service, ranging from lacking the structure of the military to being older than their classmates.
It’s shocking that, despite being the fastest growing veteran population, totaling more than 2.2 million, too many female veterans feel they are “invisible.” What is not shocking, though, is that a population that feels invisible doesn’t get the care they have earned and deserved. Womens clinics at the Department of Veterans Affairs “are sometimes located in basements or obscure corners of the buildings, without adequate signage” according to Helen Thorpe, author of “Soldier Girls,” and, nationwide, “nearly one in four VA hospitals does not have a full time gynecologist on staff.”
Representatives from 13 of America’s largest veterans service organizations attended their first big meeting at the White House Tuesday to discuss issues in the vets’ community, but instead of speaking with President Donald Trump, they were greeted by former “Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault as a senior administration representative… for a second time.
“I won’t say anyone told us we were meeting with the president, but it was implied that we would be able to voice our concerns to the boss, the guy who ultimately runs everything, which is the president,” Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS, told The Daily Beast.
At issue are news reports in recent weeks that tens of thousands of health care applications may have been improperly rejected or stalled in recent years when VA workers switched two codes requesting different information on their financial and military history.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says Congress needs to act quickly to extend a program aimed at widening veterans' access to private-sector health care, pointing to a growing demand for medical treatment outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Shulkin also pledged additional efforts by his agency to combat suicide, saying he wanted to expand mental health care to former service members who receive "other than honorable discharges" from the military, typically for behavior problems such as violence or use of illegal drugs. Shulkin did not release specific details, but said the VA will act on its own to expand coverage without waiting for legislation. Pentagon data has indicated that thousands of service members have had such discharges in recent years.
"This is not harmless fun." A Marine vet calls on Corps leadership to take action against those sharing explicit photos of servicewomen on Facebook.
Corps leadership is finally speaking out, although what seems to be missing is a clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and that there will be real repercussions for those found guilty of harassing women in any capacity. I can’t imagine why the Corps feels like it needs to tiptoe around this language, but the unwillingness to come out and say this is sadly unsurprising. The acts described on Marines United constitute harassment.