The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is returning on 14 June 2017 to conduct its third Community Town Hall in the area since the establishment of the quarterly requirement a couple of years back. It is part of an attempt by the VA to regain the trust among the veterans it serves. Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center services 19 counties, to include one in New York. The service area requires distributing the quarterly meetings over a wide area or we would have more of these useful events. For details, see: Read the rest of this entry »
Forward Observer — President Trump signs S. 544, The Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement ActApril 20, 2017
Yesterday, the President signed Senate Bill 544 into law. It extended and amended the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. Otherwise, the controversial Veterans Choice (Card) Program would have expired in August, although $1 billion of the original $10 billion remained in the account and the number of veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system using private care, under VA direction, had risen from approximately 10 to 33 percent. Essentially, the bill was a no-brain’er, as no doubt the good senator from Montana, Jon Tester (D), would himself admit. It was not a remarkable feat on the part of the Congress or the President — or the VA. Read the rest of this entry »
On 1 December 2016 at Penn State – Lehigh Valley, the Northampton County Bar Association will hold a forum entitled, “Lehigh Valley Veterans: Their Story, The Challenges and How We Can Work Together.” The event is open to the public and, for the first time in the Lehigh Valley, provides the opportunity for both veterans and the legal community to converse on this important subject. Read the rest of this entry »
Forward Observer — VA Expands Medical Reimbursement Period for Drinking Contaminated Water at Camp LejeuneAugust 7, 2016
On 18 July the VA issued a final ruling which expanded eligibility for those who may have been affected by drinking contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The window of eligibility has been expanded by about two and a half years. Previously, you must have been there from 1 January 1957 to 31 December 1987.
You may now be eligible for VA health benefits if you served on active duty or resided (family members) at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. Read the rest of this entry »
As in the past, you can call a VA clinic or hospital (see the preceding section for the local facilities) and they will send you a VA Form 1010EZ (Application for Health Benefits) package to complete; or you could go down to the facility and pick up the package. Click here for the new online way of doing it (which also simply explains the entire process) … or you can now apply to enroll in the VA’s healthcare system by picking up the phone and dialing 1-877-222-8387 (VETS)between Monday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. As of 5 July 2016, telephone applications no longer require a follow-up signature.
If you need additional assistance, call the same number or contact your local clinic or hospital and arrange it. For an alternative summary on how to apply, click here.
As of 5 August 2016
Last Veterans Day 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched with little fanfare a new website, www.vets.gov, though it is still under development and not anticipated to be finally complete for a year. It is part of the ostensibly transformative MyVA initiative and is being done in response to the federal government’s acknowledgment that there is are far too many “helpful” websites, call centers and 1-800 numbers out there. The end result is “the VA customer experience is fragmented, frustrating and confusing.” The VA is attempting to develop a simplified website “which provides useful information that’s clearly written and presented and tools that are easy to find and use” in all one place. This is no easy task.
One of its better efforts on this website seems to be the The Veterans Employment Center™ (VEC). Its intention is to connect veterans and their families with meaningful employment and career-development opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »
Click here for the Morning Call article which appeared in its Sunday edition of 17 July 2016.
Is there more to this story?
At his press conference on 16 July, the Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, stated “… the State of Pennsylvania needs to develop a more effective strategic plan on how to ensure our veterans are getting the proper care.”
For more details and the official report itself, click here.
As of 17 July 2016