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  • VVA National Agent Orange & Toxic Exposures Committee     Before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee     Regarding Pending Legislation
    same period This will provide a starting point for assembling the evidence that may be available regarding these high rates of disease and conditions in this population VVA does caution however that since there has been a consistent policy particularly in the past eight years of not providing any Federal funding for original science in this area that there may not be nearly enough peer reviewed scientific work for the VA to review Therefore VVA urges that early passage of S 1940 be followed up by steps to ensure that there are funds available specifically for original scientific studies into the effect of dioxin and other toxins on the progeny of Vietnam veterans VVA has been working on just such a proposal and looks forward to discussing these issues and working with you your distinguished colleagues and your able staff Mr Chairman to bring forth a proposal that will accomplish this and other purposes S 3035 Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care Improvement Act of 2010 To require a report on the establishment of a Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center or Polytrauma Network Site of Department of Veterans Affairs in the northern Rockies or Dakotas and for other purposes Traumatic brain injury suffered by our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has become so relatively common that its acronym TBI is becoming almost as infamous as PTSD While this affliction is not new it has only been so codified because of the carnage caused by IEDs Improvised Explosive Devices another acronym that has been incorporated into the dialect of war The Veterans Administration and the military medical system is already screening all returning troops for mild to moderate cases of TBI to varying degrees of effectiveness Those whose brain injuries are more serious are quite obvious to clinicians VVA does not object to the intent or the specifics of this proposed legislation project We would suggest that it incorporate an element that takes into account PTSD which is often present when there is either polytrauma or TBI Further VVA recommends that this project be coordinated with the Montana National Guard which has become the singular model of how to effectively de stigmatize and more effectively treat PTSD in those who choose to remain in the Guard Reserves or active duty forces as well as in general Further since this is the most rural military force that the United States has fielded since World War I it is certainly appropriate that the VA start developing new models of how to deal with returning troops closer to their home which is so often not in a major urban area This would seem to be as good a place to start as anywhere particularly because of the leadership of the Montana National Guard S 3107 Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2010 To amend title 38 United States Code to provide for an increase effective December 1 2010 in the rates of compensation for veterans with service connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans and for other purposes VVA supports this legislation Disabled veterans and their families fall victim to the rising costs of living no less so than anyone else S 3107 would increase the current levels of disability compensation additional compensation for dependents the VA clothing allowance and the various rates of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation DIC The percentage of increase would be equivalent to the percentage of the cost of living adjustment COLA for Social Security beneficiaries and would become effective as of December 1 2010 These COLA increases are absolutely necessary to ensure that veterans and their dependents receive meaningful benefits and to prevent them from falling through inflationary cracks S 3192 Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 While VVA is in general in favor of speeding up the process of adjudicating veterans claims there may well be some instances whereby through no fault of the veteran the time for appeal to the Court of Veterans Appeals should be extended in the interest of justice Therefore VVA favors passage of this proposal S 3234 Veteran Employment Assistance Act of 2010 To improve employment training and placement services furnished to veterans especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and for other purposes Vietnam Veterans of America VVA strongly endorses the clear good intent of this effort at a comprehensive act and generally endorses much of what is in each of the major titles of this proposed legislation There are significant flaws in the section 3 outline for veterans business centers including a confusing mix of grants for various purposes to the proposed centers and no overall outline of how the Small Business Administration SBA is to develop the organizational capacity to support such centers Certainly there is nothing in the experience of the last five or six years that should lead anyone to believe that that SBA has any particular organizational capacity to much of anything at all beyond the Patriot Loans for veteran business owners or would be business owners Further the history of trying to secure matching funds for such endeavors is certainly less than salutary None of the veteran business centers funded via any federal entity that we are aware of actually was able to produce matching funds in the past decade Section 5 of the proposed Act requiring that all DVOPs and LVERs veteran staff in the state workforce development agencies attend training within two years of being hired will require additional funding of about 2 8 million dollars per year for the next two years to implement One can argue that this is a much needed and excellent proposal and a good investment in these staff members who will be trained that can only help them do a better job for all persons served by the state workforce development agencies including veterans However this title begs the question of holding the state workforce development agencies accountable for what is done and

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2010/051910.html (2016-02-15)
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  • VVA Testimony
    out to veterans and veterans families via targeted advertising something that hadn t been done previously to our knowledge there has not been developed any comprehensive outreach plan that employs a variety of media including point of purchase display racks billboards TV and radio spots and that focuses on veterans in general as well as particular subsets e g homeless veterans and veterans who reside in rural or remote areas There has been no effort to systematically coordinate with and enlist the veterans service organizations and other key allies such as the state departments of veteran affairs in this effort Congress also needs to finally enact S 315 introduced by Senator Russ Feingold which would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a separate account for the funding of the outreach activities of the VA and establish within this account a separate subaccount for the funding of outreach activities of each entity within the department as well Right now if you were to ask the VA just how many dollars are being spent for outreach they could not tell you Comprehensive Veterans Toxic Exposures Act of 2010 It is becoming more and more apparent that the legacy of exposure to Agent Orange to dioxin has often profound effects on the progeny of Vietnam veterans Will exposure to the toxic mess in the burn pits of Iraq have a similar effect on troops stationed there too And what about that toxic cloud that enveloped a hundred thousand or more troops when the ammo dump at Kamisiyah was blown during Gulf War I VVA believes that comprehensive legislation is needed that would among its provisions A establish a National Birth Anomalies Registry that includes pre natal and post natal deaths with a unique veteran identifier B direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take steps to utilize all information and medical records at his disposal to conduct epidemiological analyses of Vietnam veterans and patterns of disease and maladies that can indicate where research dollars need to be invested and C integrate legislation introduced in the House Veterans Affairs Committee that would grant all who were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal as well as those who served in Guam on Johnston Island and elsewhere eligibility for service connected presumption for certain conditions as determined by the Secretary pursuant to the Agent Orange Act of 1991 Overhaul of the Claims System To ensure that veterans and their eligible family members receive accurate and timely decisions for their claims for VA benefits from the Veterans Benefits Administration VBA the current system is in dire need of a major overhaul You ve heard this before the system of adjudicating claims is broken and needs to be fixed This requires comprehensive legislation and or directives that would give teeth to appeals on those claims originated at the agency of original jurisdiction and before the Board of Veterans Appeals The BVA must be forced to follow decisions and instructions issued by higher level courts The VA Regional

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2010/031810.html (2016-02-15)
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  • VVA Testimony: The President's FY 2011 Budget Request for Veterans
    It is clear to us that mechanisms to achieve a much higher degree of transparency in all parts of the Veterans Health Administration VHA needs to be restored and the trend toward secretiveness that started in 2003 2004 needs to be sharply reversed There is no better way of securing the undivided attention of the permanent managers employed in the VHA than to make such mandates part of the appropriations process language both in the text of the law and in the report language VVA encourages the Committee to suggest possible language to the Budget and Appropriations Committees in your views and estimates statement Further there needs to be much more consultation and sharing of information between key officials in the VHA and leaders of the veterans community The fact that much of the meetings of the Seriously Mentally Ill Advisory Committee now meets in secret and the Advisory Committee on PTSD meets totally in secret should give everyone pause particularly after the mis steps and serious problems with these services at VA over the last four or five years Outreach and Education to Open the System to ALL Eligible Veterans VVA encourages the Congress to continue and accelerate the lifting of the restrictions imposed in January 2003 and to allow so called Priority 8 veterans to register and use the system As a key element in this effort VVA strongly urges the Congress to mandate that there be a line item in each division of VA specifically for outreach and education and that all of these efforts be coordinated through the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs Having been turned away one or more times by the VA many of the veterans who they are trying to reach are very skeptical to say the least about responding to any letters that VA may send them to ask them to come in and register for health care services If it is to be successful this effort must be coordinated done on a media market by media market basis and involve the Veterans Service Organizations and other key players if it is to be successful in drawing these veterans back to VA Veterans Economic Opportunity While VVA supports adding additional claims processors to the Compensation and Pension system it is equally important to add additional staff to the rolls of VA Vocational Rehabilitation VVA strongly favors reorganizing VA to create a fourth element of VA that would be known as the Veterans Economic Opportunity Administration giving the current Secretary the opportunity to establish a new corporate culture in the VEOA that focuses on helping veterans to be as autonomous and as independent as possible Frankly getting and keeping veterans who are homeless off of the street a major goal of VA should make expansion of the VA Vocational Rehabilitation program a top priority both for adding rehabilitation specialists and for adding more employment placement specialists There are currently less than 100 employment placement specialists for the entire

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2010/020410.html (2016-02-15)
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  • VVA Testimony: Concerning The Pilot Programs on Expedited Treatment of Fully Developed Claims pursuant to P.L. 110-389
    check list but would get the aforementioned letter The VA contracted with the Center for Naval Analysis CNA to assist with the evaluation of the data from the first six months of the pilot or December of 2008 to June of 2009 The focus of the analysis is to determine whether the use of the check list with the letter actually sped up the adjudication process Because so many claims were still in the process of waiting to be adjudicated at the end of the six month period the CNA and the VBA noted that any such conclusions one way or the other could not be ascertained The question of whether the individual veterans and or their advocates felt better about the process or better understood what was still needed and how to get it was not covered in the data that we have seen From what we have been given to understand there is a separate report analysis of the aspect of the pilot that focuses on fully developed claims but we have been unable to secure any information on this separate project One would assume that there is a separate CNA aided report to the Congress but we have yet to see it VVA has said for some years that most of what is wrong with the C P system can be fixed under existing statutory authority We have further advocated that essentially a week with the major stakeholders locked in a room would produce the models and agreements needed to move us toward a system that works for the individual veteran who has been lessened by virtue of his or her military service to country in the military These steps would include but not be limited to 1 common training for VA VSOs state and local government employees and others 2 A common competency based exam for all who touch a claim and 3 organizing the claims file so that documents are in a set order in every claimant s file with the most salient documents at the front of the file and 4 a decision template for every claimant that summarizes the key elements of the claim and 5 express lines for presumptive and other ready to rate claims and 6 systematic efforts to put all info in electronic form by means of Optical Character Recognition OCR or even ICR so that one can do a key word search of files and 7 work with the Armed Services Committee to begin the process of digitizing all unit and individual records The two day meeting regarding the rating schedule for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD of VSO MSO advocates with representatives of the Veterans Benefits Administration representatives of the Veterans Health Administration representatives of the Department of Defense and at least some Congressional staff gave us more hope that reasonable solutions can be achieved by sitting and reasoning together than we have had in very long time Maybe it is the right time to move forward together

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2010/020310-2.html (2016-02-15)
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  • VVA Testimony: Concerning Project HERO
    one year spent recruiting clinicians for its networks several of whom we believe had already been providing fee basis health care to veterans Humana seems pretty well geared up But many of its providers appear to be located pretty close geographically to the VAMCs whose services they are supposed to supplement So the question is Are the healthcare services rendered by Humana and by Delta Dental enhancing the health care at the VAMCs and CBOCs Further while this project was supposed to fill in services when VA had trouble recruiting key specialties for a reasonable time is there is indication that the temporary fixes have now become permanent and that VHA is no longer trying to fill the vacancies on its own staff at the relevant VAMC And are they succeeding in filling in the gaps in VA service at a significant cost saving to VA We are not convinced that they are During our quarterly briefings with VA officials we are given thick reports festooned with charts and graphs and lots of numbers What we are not given is any real evidence that HERO is enhancing care available at VAMCs and or CBOCs What seems to have evolved is a parallel health sub system in these VISNs What was supposed to supplement VA health care seems to be supplanting basic care and not only in rural and remote areas This was not we believe the intent of Congress Through the fiscal largesse of Congress for VA healthcare operations over the past three years it seems to us that rather than pay a middleman which is what Humana and Delta Dental in essence are the VAMCs and VISNs ought to be able on their own to get a handle on dollars for doctors and other clinicians whose fee basis services are necessary for the provision of timely health care to veterans who either reside inconveniently away from VA facilities or who cannot get appointments in a reasonable amount of time either with primary care providers or with specialists VVA sees no reason why internal units at VISNs and VAMCs can t assemble a roster of clinicians and regulate fee basis care insuring that such care is available of high quality and can be integrated into the VA s electronic health record system Just as important as we have written in the past the entire business model of HERO threatens the underpinning of the VA healthcare system VISN and VAMC directors can find it is fiscally advantageous in the short term to outsource more and more of their services This can and we believe will eventuate in the shuttering of outpatient clinics as well as VA medical centers In fairness VA officials who are overseeing Project HERO acknowledge that they are learning from their experiences with HERO and that with hindsight they would have structured the contracts differently For this we applaud them But we do not believe that any wholesale outsourcing of healthcare services is either warranted or justified by

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2010/020310.html (2016-02-15)
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  • Untitled Document
    risk of becoming homeless and their counterparts at HUD Sec 4 In testimony provided by VVA in April 2008 we recommended that Congress go above the authorizing level for the Homeless Grant and Per Diem program and fund the program at 200 million and not the 150 million authorized We are gratified that this funding increase is stipulated herein We would hope however that no consideration be given to provide per diem payments to entities that house veterans but offer no services Three hots and a cot is little more than a very temporary palliative Should this occur it would open the door to funding empty shell shelters in every city municipality or county in the country and would defeat the purpose of this bill We would offer that a consolidation of the VA s Homeless Grant and Per Diem HGPD projects be included in this bill This is a per diem issue for all existing programs that received a second grant for expansion of an existing original program In the past some successful VA HGPD residential programs identified a need for increased bed space because of the number of veterans requesting admission These programs asked for additional beds under a Per Diem Only PDO grant process and were awarded the ability to increase their overall program beds But because the original grant and the PDO grant were awarded at different times they have separate project numbers which leads to an accounting nightmare as everything related to the program has to be divided by percentages and every veteran who changes beds has to be tracked by not one but two project numbers This does not make much sense to us There should be a provision by which a modification of the original grant can accomplish the same purpose without adding busy work that actually does not increase accountability Sec 5 Perhaps the key area in this section is the promise of case management services without which far too many veterans who are homeless will inevitably drift back into homelessness even after they are afforded rental housing Caring informed case management is particularly critical in assisting those homeless veterans who have mental health and or substance abuse issues Yet herein is a conundrum Many veterans do not meet the criteria for HUD VASH because they require case management They also do not meet the criteria for Mental Health Intensive Case Management MHICM included in this legislation These compromised veterans are left without recourse to fend for themselves Therefore we would urge inclusion in this bill for case management services for those individuals who would otherwise be ineligible for HUD VASH Sec 6 The appointment of a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development simply makes sense HUD needs an individual who has the ear of the Secretary and who can coordinate all programs and activities at HUD relating to veterans This position needs to be high enough within the HUD hierarchy to be taken seriously Sec 7 Establishing a method for the collection and aggregation of data on homeless veterans participating in VA and HUD programs also makes sense Sec 8 Researching and writing and devising a comprehensive plan to end homelessness among veterans sounds fine It is likely however to result in yet another tome that does little more than gather dust What may make more sense of course is to focus on preventing homelessness in the first place But program managers within HUD and the VA along with key leaders working in non governmental organizations that provide assistance to homeless veterans perhaps need to form working groups on different facets of the homeless veteran issue conclude what programs work and need enhancement and what programs ought to be consigned to the dust bin of history and make recommendations to their respective Secretaries The watch word of any such plan should be KISS Keep It Simple Soldier Just because it is simple does not mean it is easy Whether we want to acknowledge this or not our nation is likely always to have some veterans who drift through life without roots many of them battling the demons of their wartime experiences However we can and must do a far better job than we are currently doing S 977 The Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2009 This bill would provide certain improved benefits for veterans who are former prisoners of war It would repeal the minimum period of internment for presumption of service connection for certain diseases It would make ex POWs afflicted with diseases determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to have positive association with the experience of being a prisoner of war eligible to receive disability compensation As long as any determination by the Secretary as stipulated in the bill s language is made based on sound medical and scientific information and analyses VVA supports enactment of this bill as there are so few former POWs left that the cost of the bill should be minimal and therefore any pay go implications not particularly onerous S 1109 Providing Real Outreach for Veterans Act or PRO VETS Act of 2009 Should this bill be enacted it would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into an agreement with the Secretary of Defense for the transfer of data to the VA to provide members of the Armed Forces as well as veterans with individualized information concerning veterans benefits for which each member and veteran may be eligible It would require the VA Secretary after receiving such data to 1 compile a list of all benefits for which each member or veteran may be eligible 2 notify the member or veteran or their legal representative of such benefits and 3 provide a second notification if the member or veteran does not apply for a listed benefit within 60 days It would provide for annual notifications thereafter And it would require additional notifications based on changed circumstances although it would allow each member or veteran the option to decline further notifications There are many difficulties in this proposed legislation not the least of which is cost The sheer effort to comply with the provisions of S 1109 would bloat an already bloated central bureaucracy Yes the VA as well as DoD needs to do a far better job of informing troops and veterans of their rights and benefits But there are far better ways of accomplishing this The VA could start with a much better search engine on their web site as well as other enhancements to make their web site more user friendly Many veterans particularly the newest generation of veterans get their info on the Internet Why not provide veterans with a card listing key VA telephone numbers and web addresses Why not incorporate information about benefits in an overall outreach strategy to be developed by the VA one that would use billboards as well as public service announcements While this bill is very well meaning taken alone it is not the answer S 1118 would provide for an increase in the amount of monthly dependency and indemnity compensation DIC payable to surviving spouses by the Department of Veterans Affairs One provision of this bill would reduce eligibility to receive DIC from age 57 to age 55 after which remarriage shall not terminate such compensation VVA endorses enactment of this legislation Even as the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are adding surviving spouses almost daily the majority of surviving spouses are women who are nearing retirement age or have been retired for some time if they ever worked outside the home Many of these women devoted themselves to caring for their spouse who may have been profoundly disabled as a result of his service in the military many of these spouses did not have the opportunity to build a career of their own Enactment of S 1118 would in effect recognize their service and sacrifice even though DIC payments alone are inadequate to support an adult in most parts of the country S 1155 would establish within the Veterans Health Administration VHA of the Department of Veterans Affairs VA the position of Director of Physician Assistant Services in the Office of the Under Secretary for Health VVA endorses S 1155 as we have endorsed its companion bill in the House H R 1302 As we noted in testimony in the House this bill seems to us a logical if somewhat belated effort to establish the position of Director of Physician Assistant Services under the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health As stipulated in this bill the director who would be a qualified physician assistant shall be responsible to and report directly to the Under Secretary for Health on all matters relating to the education and training employment appropriate utilization and optimal participation of physician assistants within the programs and initiatives of the Administration The last three individuals to occupy the position of Under Secretary for Health have refused to accord Physician Assistants most of whom are veterans equal prestige and respect with Nurse Practitioners most of whom are not veterans The reasons are puzzling and to say the aforementioned individuals and their functionaries have been less than honest in discussing this issue with Congress veterans service organizations and organized labor would be an understatement It is shameful that this bill needs to be enacted to get the VHA to act decently honestly and as common sense would dictate but this is the case S 1204 the Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2009 This bill would amend the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all VA Medical Centers While VVA supports the enactment of this bill we would suggest that this body consider looking into other alternative healthcare options that have shown varying degrees of effectiveness These might include acupuncture These might include as well such modern relaxation techniques as biofeedback which has proven successful in treating fibromyalgia hypertension and certain heart conditions and even traumatic brain injuries TBI S 1302 the Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009 This bill would provide for the introduction of pay for performance compensation mechanisms into contracts between the VA and community based outpatient clinics CBOCs operated by private contractors for the provision of healthcare services VVA endorses S 1302 It recognizes that while the top priorities for CBOCs should be to provide quality health care and patient satisfaction for America s veterans in some instances current contracts for CBOCs may create an incentive for contractors to sign up as many veterans as possible without ensuring timely access to high quality health care for such veterans It also would set in place mechanisms to eliminate abuses in the provision of health care services by CBOCs under contracts that continue to utilize capitated basis compensation mechanisms for compensating contractors It would also set in place mechanisms to ensure that veterans are not denied care or face undue delays in receiving care S 1394 the Veterans Entitlement to Service Act or the VETS Act of 2009 This legislation would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of medical disability and pension claims and other communications submitted by claimants within 30 days of the receipt of the claim or other communication If enactment of this legislation can increase the efficiency and accountability of VA personnel we would endorse it We fear however that it has the potential to create more flurries of action and or mounds of additional paperwork without increasing efficiencies in the adjudication of claims S 1427 the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital Quality Report Card Act of 2009 This bill would establish and implement a Hospital Quality Report Card Initiative to report on health care quality in VA medical centers VVA is in favor of much more disclosure of information by VA especially as to resource allocation and quality measures This report card has the potential to make every veteran and ombudsman Further if this initiative can inspire a competition among VA medical centers to be the best to get the highest rating this could be a good thing but only if the VA is measuring the right things in the right way as to actually improve the quality of care S 1429 the Servicemembers Mental Health Care Commission Act This bill would establish a commission on veterans and members of the Armed Forces with Post traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD traumatic brain injury TBI or other mental health disorders to enhance the capacity of mental health care providers to assist such veterans and members of the military and to ensure that such veterans are not discriminated against Another commission Although there are myriad efforts by both public and private entities to deal with the epidemic of mental health woes that afflict men and women who have served in a combat zone there is no single entity extant to oversee this Our skepticism about this bill however is based on the yet another commission attempt to deal with a problem or an issue After the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was exposed by the Washington Post two and a half years ago of a sudden there were task forces and commissions appointed by the President and hearings by Congress to ask how such a thing could happen and how we could prevent it from happening again Well after all the heat there was very little light The heralded case management initiative for the severely wounded has had some successes but is from all that we can see a washout Many of the same problems remain The case management system at Walter Reed Army Medical Center still does not work very well and the so called pilot project for the Medical Evaluation Boards Physical Evaluation Boards MEB PEB is not working very well at all Will a commission enhance the treatment of servicemembers and veterans afflicted with PTSD or TBI or a host of other mental health issues Not unless it is a permanent body and answers directly to the White House and has some actual power to help force positive change on this process S 1444 the Compensation Owed for Mental Health Based on Activities in Theater Post traumatic Stress Disorder Act or the COMBAT PTSD Act This bill attempts to clarify the meaning of combat with the enemy for purposes of service connection of disabilities VVA can support this bill if its intent is that it be applied to veterans with a valid diagnosis of PTSD i e in the manner called for as noted in the 2006 Institute of Medicine report at HYPERLINK http iom CMS 3793 32410 aspx http iom CMS 3793 32410 aspx and if the intent is that any veteran who served in a theater of combat operations as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Defense during a period of war or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities be taken at their word that the event or incident which occurred in service gave rise to their disability As VVA has stated repeatedly in prior Congressional testimony an appropriate process already exists for VA PTSD claims processing as mandated by Congress back in 2000 under the Veterans Claims Assistance Act However it doesn t work because the VA fails time and time again to provide for the uniformity consistency and efficiency that are necessary to ensure that the claims process works in a timely fashion for all veteran claimants TheVA does not use the guidelines established by the IOM on the medical side and does not use their own Best Practices Manual for Adjudication of PTSD Claims The problem is not with the law rather it s with the implementation of the law by the VA that s the issue S 1467 the Lance Corporal Josef Lopez Fairness for Servicemembers Harmed by Vaccines Act of 2009 If passed this bill would provide coverage under Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance for adverse reactions to vaccinations administered by the Department of Defense There can be no doubt that some members of the military who are given inoculations against certain diseases suffer adverse reactions Some of these reactions are life altering even life threatening All such adverse reactions are covered under existing Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance guidelines under DoD but the Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center does not follow suit in all instances as in the case of former Marine Lance Corporal Lopez Enactment of this bill would in effect close a loophole that would benefit Mr Lopez and his family and perhaps countless others It has the unqualified support of VVA S 1518 the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009 The intent of this bill is to furnish hospital care medical services and nursing home care to veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune North Carolina while the water there was contaminated by volatile organic compounds including known and probable human carcinogens It would provide the same services to a family member of a veteran who resided at Camp Lejeune during a given period as well as to a child who was in utero at the time Passage of this legislation would provide a measure of justice to veterans and their families who through no fault of their own were harmed simply by being assigned to Camp Lejeune It would be up to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to prescribe the regulations that would specify which conditions are associated with exposure to the contaminants and which disabilities are associated with such conditions We hope that this bill receives swift passage S 1531 the Department of Veterans Affairs Reorganization Act of 2009 The purpose of this legislation is to establish within the VA the position of Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Logistics and Construction to provide policy direction and manage oversight with respect to acquisition

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  • VVA Testimony: Regarding the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007 and the Puerto Rico Self Determination Act of 2007
    has been such since 1898 when the island was invaded by the U S Forces under General Miles U S was entrusted with 2 obligations Civil rights of the inhabitants will be determine by Congress Political status will be determine by Congress It means that the obligation accepted by the US representatives in the Treaty of Paris to resolve the political status of the island of Puerto Rico rests in Congress The time has come to empower the Puerto Rican men and women to make a decision regarding the island s ultimate destiny Let the people of Puerto Rico with your authorization decide if they want to become a State of the Union or an independent republic This request for self determination is supported by the National Organization of the Vietnam Veterans of America A resolution entitled Self Determination for Puerto Rico was unanimously approved at the National Convention held on August 3 2003 in St Louis Missouri It calls for the U S Congress to define the legal status options available for Puerto Rico and authorize a plebiscite regarding the island s future I am including with my remarks a copy of said resolution I understand you have 2 two bills under consideration The bill that represents the position adopted by the Vietnam Veterans of America is H R 900 introduced by Congressman Jose Serrano and 93 co sponsors including Chairman Nick Rahall and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño We believe this bill affords the people of Puerto Rico the opportunity to make an informed decision and directly vote on their status preference on constitutionally valid options as defined by Congress Until you my honorable ladies and gentleman of this committee act Puerto Rico will continue suffering of being a second class territory of the union and we

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2007/032207.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Untitled Document
    or those at risk of incipient homelessness ought to be part of a larger more inclusive VA outreach strategy that informs veterans of the benefits they have earned by virtue of their military service and that informs veterans of any health conditions that might derive from their time and place in service We maintain as well that there needs to be a separate line for outreach in the VA budget including separate lines for outreach in the budgets of the various entities of the VA H R 2735 would make certain improvements to the comprehensive service programs for homeless veterans to include creating a separate grant fund for service center personnel changing the rate of payment from a per diem daily cost of care to an annual cost of providing services allowing the VA to increase the rate of payment to reflect the cost of providing services and allowing providers to use per diem funds to match other funding sources One of the frontline outreach programs funded by the VA is Day Service Centers sometimes referred to as Drop In Centers These centers reach deep into the homeless veteran population that are still on the streets and in the shelters of our cities and towns These centers receive rates based on an hourly calculation per diem 4 30 for the time that a homeless veteran is actually on site in the center While this amount may cover the cost of the coffee and food it does not come close to covering the cost of the professional staff that must provide the assistance the veterans need long after they leave the facility Why should there be separate facilities to service veterans who are homeless The reality is that most city and municipality social services simply do not have the knowledge or capacity to provide appropriate supportive services that directly involve the treatment care and entitlements of veterans Hence homeless veterans service centers are vital in any effort to get homeless veterans off the streets and into programs that they need to conquer homelessness and give them a fighting chance of integrating back into society Why not create Service Center Staffing Operational grants much like the VA Special Needs grants already in existence VVA supports establishing Supportive Services Assistance Grants for VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem Service Center Grant awardees which we would hope enactment of H R 2735 might accomplish H R 3073 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and fund at 100 million for each of fiscal years 2011 2012 and 2013 a grant program to provide assistance to veterans at risk of becoming homeless The program would provide funding to public entities and private non profit organizations to make payments for up to three months to an eligible veteran s landlord mortgage company or utility company for amounts of rent mortgage or utility bills that are in arrears as well as security deposits for rental properties The programs also would provide supportive services including job training and mental health and substance abuse treatment to prevent these veterans from becoming homeless Such a program is no long term solution If enacted into law and properly translated from concept to reality it could help stanch the descent of hundreds if not thousands of low income veterans who in this uncertain economy are in fact in imminent danger of eviction or foreclosure and at risk of becoming homeless Draft Legislation to improve per diem payments for organizations assisting homeless veterans VVA has long contended that VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem funding must be considered a payment rather than a reimbursement for expenses an important distinction that will enable the community based organizations that deliver the majority of these services to operate more effectively We have wondered why this funding has not been considered a fee for service instead of a reimbursement Such a change would pay existing and future grant awardees in a per diem program as contractors much like that of the past programs However now there would be a process for defined oversight in regard to annual inspections services offered and goals attained The amount of work and the staff time required to accommodate the current system for grant and per diem programs is a drain not only on staff time but in many instances on the fiscal solvency of an agency receiving such funding A key element in this bill notes that 25 percent of funds available for per diem grant payments would go to entities that must do more than just provide three hots and a cot They must offer transitional and supportive services as prescribed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs VVA would suggest that far more than 25 percent of available funds ought to go to agencies that provide such services The danger is that cities and towns and counties that provide shelters for their homeless populations will wind up competing with agencies that are actively working to bring services and assistance to veterans with the goal of successful community reintegration VVA would also add that an important per diem funding issue be added to this bill that addresses funding to an existing program for the expansion of its original program In the past some successful VA residential programs for homeless veterans identified a need for increased bed space based on the number of veterans requesting admission These programs requested additional beds under a per diem only or PDO grant process and were awarded funds to increase their overall program beds However because the original grant and the PDO grant were awarded at different times they have separate project numbers even though both grants were for the same program with the same expenses Hence they are required to divide out by percentage the number of beds and the per diem rates under each project number in the required reporting to the VA And everything related to the program has to be divided by percentages and every veteran who changes bedrooms has

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/testimony/2009/100109.html (2016-02-15)
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