Showing 80 posts tagged News

VA and Vet Groups announce initiative to reduce claims backlog

(From a Department of Veterans Affairs News Release, 21 MAY 2013. Source.)

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion today announced a new partnership to help in reducing the compensation claims backlog for veterans.

The effort — called the Fully Developed Claims Community of Practice — is a key part of VA’s overall transformation plan to end the backlog in 2015 and process claims within 125 days at 98 percent accuracy, VA officials said.

VA can process fully developed claims in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, officials noted.

"VA prides itself on our ongoing partnership with organizations that represent veterans throughout the claims process," said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. "A fully developed claim is the most effective way to ensure a veteran’s claim never reaches the backlog and is the basis for this new initiative between VA and what we expect will be an ever-increasing number of veteran service organizations and others who represent veterans at various points of the claims process."

The new initiative “takes a common-sense approach to working smarter to better serve injured and ill veterans,” said Barry Jesinoski, Washington Headquarters executive director for Disabled American Veterans.

"DAV is pleased to be working with the VA to help improve the disability compensation system," Jesinoski added.

The American Legion has been working with VA since December on its fully developed claims process, said James E. Koutz, the American Legion’s national commander.

"Teams of our experts have already gone to VA regional offices in Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities to help identify best practices for [fully developed claims], and to further train our own service officers," Koutz said.

Claims are considered to be “fully developed” when veterans submit all available supporting evidence, such as private treatment records and notice of federal treatment records, to VA at the time they first file a formal claim and certify they have no more evidence to submit. This is the information that VA needs to make a determination on a disability claim, VA officials said.

The fully developed claims program supports the sharing of best practices across veteran service organizations that help thousands of veterans each year with their compensation claims, to identify up front all evidence necessary to support a veteran’s claim, officials explained. Veterans then certify that they have no additional evidence to submit, and VA can process the claim in half the time it takes for a traditionally filed claim, they added.

Veteran service organizations have long played an integral role in submitting veterans’ claims — often with representatives working within VA regional offices. VA has consulted with them throughout the development and implementation of its plan to end the backlog in 2015 to ensure best practices and their unique insights were incorporated, officials said.

The American Legion and DAV are the first to step forward to work with VA on the program, officials added, and that program has led to a much more efficient process.

This is the latest effort in support of the plan to reduce the backlog. Last month, VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for veterans who have waited one year or longer.

On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for veterans who have been waiting the longest by providing provisional decisions that allow eligible veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly. With a provisional decision, a veteran has a year to submit additional information to support a claim before the decision becomes final.

On May 15, VA officials announced that the department is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices through the end of fiscal year 2013 to help eliminate the backlog, with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor recipients, and veterans filing fully developed claims.

As of May 17, the paperless claims processing system known as the Veterans Benefits Management System, or VBMS, has been deployed to 46 out of 56 regional office locations, and about 18 percent of VA’s current claim inventory is in an electronic format, officials said.

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Defense Department through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, officials said. On average, they noted, wounded warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in two months following their separation from service.

Related Sites:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The American Legion
Disabled American Veterans
Information on Filing Fully Developed Claims
VA Transformation Plan to Eliminate Compensation Claims Backlog


Message i found on reddit.
Sums up my opinion on everyone who is ready to go to war with Korea, but is unwilling to do the fighting. If you want a say in risking the lives of the men and women who defend us, put your own life on the line first.


Message i found on reddit.

Sums up my opinion on everyone who is ready to go to war with Korea, but is unwilling to do the fighting. If you want a say in risking the lives of the men and women who defend us, put your own life on the line first.

1100 Green Berets Sign Letter Upholding 2nd Amendment


1100 Green Berets Sign Letter Upholding 2nd Amendment

The Green Berets are US Army’s elite, special force troops, capable of performing missions that go above and beyond the standard call of duty.  This time, they have applied that standard of excellence to the political arena.  These 1,100 service members are keeping their oath to preserve and protect the constitution by suggesting solutions that do not run afoul of the second amendment.  They have identified exactly those issues which have been ignored by the media:
Referencing the Fast and Furious gun running scandal perpetrated by Eric Holder and the Justice Department, they call for state law enforcement to secure our national borders in order to prevent illegal weapons from entering the country.
Recognizing that every mass shooter in recent history has been mentally unstable, they call for restrictions and treatment for unstable individuals.
Rather than harboring a lack of knowledge and irrational fear of firearms, they encourage safety training in schools.
They point out that the “Gun Free School Zones Act” prohibits teachers and administrators from effectively defending their students.
View the full letter here:

"We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer," the group states. "We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set."

Green Berets lobby against gun control, via

ISAF condemns insurgent attack in Farah

(Media release from ISAF Joint Command, 4 APR 2013 via DVIDS.)

KABUL, Afghanistan - The International Security Assistance Force joins President Karzai in condemning yesterday’s brutal attack on government facilities in Farah province that killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more.

"We stand with the Afghan leadership in condemning this brutal assault on the courthouse in Farah, which killed many Afghan civilians," said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the ISAF commander. "Innocent civilians and public servants were killed and injured because of the insurgency’s indiscriminate use of suicide attacks and small arms fire. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and injured yesterday and implore the insurgency to stop attacking innocent civilians."

DOD to deploy ballistic missile defense system to Guam

(Media release via American Forces Press Service, 3 APR 2013. Source.)

WASHINGTON - The Defense Department will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, or THAAD, ballistic missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks as a precautionary move to strengthen the regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat, Pentagon officials announced today.

The THAAD system is a land-based missile defense system that includes a truck-mounted launcher, a complement of interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire control system. This deployment will strengthen defense capabilities for American citizens in the U.S. territory of Guam and U.S. forces stationed there, officials said in a statement announcing the deployment.

The United States continues to urge the North Korean leadership to cease provocative threats and choose the path of peace by complying with its international obligations, remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and stands ready to defend U.S. territory, allies and national interests, the statement said.

DOD releases update to sexual assault prevention and response policies

(Article by Nick Simeone of American Forces Press Service, 29 MAR 2013. Source.)

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense yesterday released updated policies and procedures aimed at combating sexual assaults in the military and improving care for victims.

Senior defense officials said the updated policies and procedures provide a framework that improves safety for sexual assault victims, standardizes victim-assistance services across the force, enhances prevention efforts and provides victims added confidence to come forward to report assaults and seek treatment.

"Today’s release of an updated policy directive underscores the department’s commitment to combating sexual assault on every level within the military," said Army Maj. Gen. Gary S. Patton, director of DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

SAPRO officials said the policy changes came about through a coordinated effort among the services, the National Guard Bureau, the DOD inspector general, military healthcare providers, chaplains and the entire DOD community to improve every aspect of the department’s response to sexual assault.

"We have thousands of victims in the armed forces," Air Force Col. Alan R. Metzler, SAPRO’s deputy director, said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. "We need to make sure that we prevent sexual assault from happening, and when it does, provide a response system that can care for people and hold people accountable so we can get the perpetrators out of the armed forces."

The updated policies incorporate expedited transfers for victims, establish a hotline for crisis intervention, and require additional training as well as new, uniform standards for care givers.

"We have worked with the national certification body and codified into our policy that every victim advocate, every sexual assault response coordinator have a level of training and competence and national certification so that they are providing victims the best quality care," Metzler said.

Senior Pentagon officials emphasize that the department has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault. In recent weeks, Patton has met with Capitol Hill lawmakers to discuss the department’s response to sexual assault, emphasizing that the Pentagon needs to do more to combat the crime while welcoming input from outside groups.

A goal of the new policies and procedures is to encourage sexual assault victims to have confidence in the system and to come forward and report crimes, which Metzler acknowledged are “vastly under reported.”

"The department takes this seriously, that when a victim tells us that they have been sexually assaulted, we will believe them," he said. "We will protect their privacy. They will be able to have help and care because we understand the nature of this crime and we want them to come forward to get help."

Army Maj. Gen. Gary S. Patton
Air Force Col. Alan R. Metzler

Related Sites:
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
Updated Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Policies

Afghan Commandos support US mentors during Jalrez attack

(Follow-up article to “Green on Blue” incident. By Sergeant First Class Tawanna Starks, 13 MAR 2013. Source.)

WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan commandos from 3rd Company, 6th Special Operations Kandak (SOK) conducted a unilateral mission to support U.S. Special Forces (USSF) during a quick reaction force operation to Jalrez district, March 11.

U.S. Special Forces were responding to an incident in which an individual wearing an Afghan National Police uniform opened fire on a group of Afghan and U.S. Forces. 

Due to time constraints and limited air assets, USSF were unable to take their partner force commandos. 

The 6th SOK refused to allow USSF to engage insurgents without them and requested, through their chain of command, permission to conduct a tactical ground movement in support of their mentors.

“I’d like to thank the commandos for their leadership and support. They have been our committed partners for many years now,” said Army Lt. Col. Christopher J. Fox, Commander of Special Operations Task Force-East. “It’s encouraging to see our commando brothers-in-arms coming to support us during our time of need.”

Brigadier Karmi, Commander of Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC), granted permission for the 6th SOK to join their mentors as he was aware of the timeliness and sensitivity of the request.

“We go out, knowing that some of us might die. Knowing there may be sacrifice,” said Brig. Gen. Karmi, Commander of Afghan National Army Special Operations Command. “We work with coalition forces and it is important that we continue to work together.”

Everyday, thousands of coalition Special Forces live and work successfully alongside their Afghan Special Operations partners without incident. They share the same mission and objectives: to battle the insurgency and build lasting peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan. The 6th SOK and ANASOC demonstrated their commitment to these goals and their coalition partners.

Full Transcript of DOD Press Briefing on Sequestration

(From the Pentagon, presented by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, 1 MAR 2013. Source.)

 SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Deputy Secretary Carter and I wanted to take a few minutes this afternoon to talk a little bit about sequestration and what was announced today. Many of you saw the President a few hours ago. And I’ll make a statement, and then the Deputy Secretary and I will entertain questions. So, thank you for coming. 

            I just spent an hour, actually and hour-and-a-half, with the Joint Chiefs to talk about this issue and to talk about consequences, and how we will continue to adjust to the realities that face our country and face this institution. 

            In particular, I’d like to address the uncertainty that sequestration is causing, [and] will continue to cause this department. But at the outset of my remarks, let me make it clear that this uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions. Leadership in the Pentagon, all of us, have two serious concerns: first, the abrupt and arbitrary cuts imposed by sequester; and second, the lack of budget management flexibility that we now face under the current continuing resolution.


Read more

Hey Congress, the sky is blue.

Sequestration ‘Wrong, Unfair, Not Smart,” President Says.

(Article by Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service, 26 FEB 2013.)

WASHINGTON – Automatic spending cuts set to take effect this week “are wrong,” President Barack Obama said today during a visit to a shipbuilding company in Virginia.

“They’re not smart. They’re not fair. They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen,” the president told workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The cuts, due to take effect March 1, would carve $47 billion from Defense Department spending over the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Virginia’s Tidewater region is one of the areas where the cuts would be keenly felt.

Thousands of specialists will be out of work in the region if sequestration happens, the president said, and the layoffs will have a ripple effect throughout the country.

“The impact of this policy won’t be felt overnight, but it will be real,” Obama said. “The sequester will weaken America’s economic recovery. It will weaken our military readiness. And it will weaken the basic services that the American people depend on every single day.”

The military services are already taking steps in response to the threat of sequestration. The Navy delayed sending the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf, and delayed refueling the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

“Because of these automatic cuts, about 90,000 Virginians who work for the Department of Defense would be forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs,” the president said. “That’s money out of their pockets, money out of their paychecks. And then that means there’s going to be a ripple effect on thousands of other jobs and businesses and services throughout the commonwealth, because if they don’t have money in their pockets or less money in their pockets, that means they’re less able to afford to buy goods and services from other businesses.”

Multiply this across the country and across the government, and the numbers get horrifying pretty quickly, the president said.

“Across the country, these cuts will force federal prosecutors to close cases and potentially let criminals go,” Obama said. “Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, and that could cause delays at airports across the country. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

The government needs to be concerned about the national debt, but sequestration is not the way to go, Obama said, noting that households prioritize spending decisions, but sequestration does not allow government leaders to do this with the budget.

Obama called on Congress to resolve the dilemma by stopping the cuts and replacing them with smart savings and tax reform. “And the second I get that bill on my desk, I will sign it into law,” he said. “But I’ve got to get Congress to pass it.”

Obama said the American people want a long-term solution.

“You’ve worked too hard for too long rebuilding and digging our way out of the financial crisis back in 2007 and 2008 just to see Congress cause another one,” he said. “The greatest nation on Earth can’t keep on conducting its business drifting from one crisis to the next.”

Related Sites:
Special Report: Sequestration

Congress needs to remove head from anal tract.

(Official article title: Sequestration Could Delay Redeployment for Soldiers in Afghanistan)

(Article by C. Todd Lopez of Army News Service, 15 FEB 2013. Source.)

WASHINGTON - The lack of an appropriations bill coupled with sequestration could eventually cause soldiers to be delayed in their redeployment home from Afghanistan, the Army’s top officer said.

Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, speaking today at the Brookings Institution here, explained that replacement forces to Afghanistan in 2014 could be affected by a shortage of training dollars and be forced to delay their deployment.

Sequestration will mean an additional $500 billion in defense cuts, and shifting funding for improvised-explosive-device detection and electronic warfare equipment from overseas contingency operations budgets to service operations and maintenance budgets will mean an additional $100 billion in cuts.

"Today, in my opinion, the greatest threat to our national security is the fiscal uncertainty resulting from the lack of predictability in the budget cycles," Odierno said. "Our country’s inability to put its fiscal house in order compromises the future of the joint force, the Army, and ultimately will impact our ability to provide security to our nation."

Read more