VFW Magazine March 2011 : Page 12

washingtonwire News from VFW’sWashington Office By Tim Dyhouse -----------------------SERVICE ------------------------VA Report Card Highlights Women VA health care “scores better than private-sector health plans,” according to a self-issued “report card”VA released in January. The third annual VA Facility Quality and Safety Report rated the quality of care at each of VA’s 153 facilities across the nation. Volunteers Wanted for TBI Study A coalition of doctors is seeking volunteers to study the effec-tiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat trau-matic brain injury.The National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Clinical Trial needs 1,000 volunteers with mild cases of TBI to participate in studies at 80 locations nationwide. HBOTis the use of oxygen in a pres-sure chamber at greater than atmo-spheric pressures as a medication to treat injury and disease. According to NBIRR, the trials will consist of volunteers breathing 100% oxygen at 1.5 atmospheres for 60 minutes in 40-80 separate treatments. The study will begin this May and could last until April 2014. The doctors are especially interested in including war veterans between the ages of 18-65. Active-duty troops can participate as well. For more information, access www.nbirr.org. The Women Veterans Health Center at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System provides preventive health screenings as part of its regular care for women vets. The report also notes that VA “shares the same challenges as the private sector in providing equal care to all patients.” Specifically for women veterans,VA says it is: • Evaluating emergency room care. • Rolling out an education plan for ER providers. • Implementing a breast cancer registry to assist in follow-up of abnormal mammograms. • Training 400 more providers in basic and advanced “mini-residencies”in women’s health. The full 205-page report can be viewed online at http:// www1.va.gov/health/docs/HospitalReportCard2010.pdf. TBI Could Cause Epilepsy Doctors at the 64th American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting in December said veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) could develop epilepsy. Though the risk is still unknown, attendees said they hope to educate civilian and military doctors about a possible connection. Some 200,000 U.S. troops have suffered TBI while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Karen Parko from the San Francisco VAMedical Center said at the meeting that VA has treated more than 80,000 vets with epilepsy and the number is expected to increase dramatically. Veterans interested in more information about TBI and epilepsy can access the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center website at www.dvbic.org. 12 • VFW • March 2011 Group Offers Dignified Burials A California non-profit group is seeking volunteers to help provide military funerals for “forgotten”veterans.The Missing in America Project says its mission is to “locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains”ofAmerican veterans. “Our government promised every veteran a decent buri-al,” said National Director Fred Salanti of Redding, Calif. “That doesn’t include sitting on a shelf in some funeral home basement.” Salanti, a retired Army major, told the Boston Globe in January that some 2-3 million remains—mostly cremated ashes—are in morgues or on funeral home shelves. His group buried 20 such veterans remains with full military honors at Calverton National Cemetery on eastern Long Island, N.Y., in early January. The Missing in America Project—sanctioned by VA— includes some 800 volunteers. For more information, access www.miap.us. Newsletter Serves Newer Vets A VAnewsletter offers resources for Iraq and Afghanistan vet-erans interested in learning more about benefits, health risks and current news. The Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Review can be accessed online at www.publichealth.va.gov/ exposures/oefoif. Click on “Resources and Materials” in the upper right box to link to an electronic edition.Veterans also can order free hard-copy subscriptions at the site as well. Benefit Payments Will Go Paperless Within two years, the federal government plans to phase out paper checks for benefits—including VA compensation pay-VA PHOTO

Washington Wire

Tim Dyhouse

VA Report Card Highlights Women<br /> <br /> VA health care “scores better than private-sector health plans,” according to a self-issued “report card”VA released in January. The third annual VA Facility Quality and Safety Report rated the quality of care at each of VA’s 153 facilities across the nation.<br /> <br /> The report also notes that VA “shares the same challenges as the private sector in providing equal care to all patients.” Specifically for women veterans,VA says it is:<br /> <br /> • Evaluating emergency room care.<br /> <br /> • Rolling out an education plan for ER providers.<br /> <br /> • Implementing a breast cancer registry to assist in followup of abnormal mammograms.<br /> <br /> • Training 400 more providers in basic and advanced “mini-residencies” in women’s health. The full 205-page report can be viewed online at http:// www1.va.gov/health/docs/HospitalReportCard2010.pdf.<br /> <br /> TBI Could Cause Epilepsy<br /> <br /> Doctors at the 64th American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting in December said veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) could develop epilepsy. Though the risk is still unknown, attendees said they hope to educate civilian and military doctors about a possible connection.<br /> <br /> Some 200,000 U.S. troops have suffered TBI while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Karen Parko from the San Francisco VA Medical Center said at the meeting that VA has treated more than 80,000 vets with epilepsy and the number is expected to increase dramatically.<br /> <br /> Veterans interested in more information about TBI and epilepsy can access the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center website at www.dvbic.org.<br /> <br /> Volunteers Wanted for TBI Study<br /> <br /> A coalition of doctors is seeking volunteers to study the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat traumatic brain injury. The National Brain Injury Rescue and Rehabilitation Clinical Trial needs 1,000 volunteers with mild cases of TBI to participate in studies at 80 locations nationwide.<br /> <br /> HBOT is the use of oxygen in a pressure chamber at greater than atmospheric pressures as a medication to treat injury and disease. According to NBIRR, the trials will consist of volunteers breathing 100% oxygen at 1.5 atmospheres for 60 minutes in 40-80 separate treatments.<br /> <br /> The study will begin this May and could last until April 2014. The doctors are especially interested in including war veterans between the ages of 18-65. Active-duty troops can participate as well.<br /> <br /> For more information, access www.nbirr.org.<br /> <br /> Group Offers Dignified Burials<br /> <br /> A California non-profit group is seeking volunteers to help provide military funerals for “forgotten” veterans. The Missing in America Project says its mission is to “locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains”of American veterans.<br /> <br /> “Our government promised every veteran a decent burial,” said National Director Fred Salanti of Redding, Calif. “That doesn’t include sitting on a shelf in some funeral home basement.”<br /> <br /> Salanti, a retired Army major, told the Boston Globe in January that some 2-3 million remains—mostly cremated ashes—are in morgues or on funeral home shelves. His group buried 20 such veterans remains with full military honors at Calverton National Cemetery on eastern Long Island, N.Y., in early January..<br /> <br /> The Missing in America Project—sanctioned by VA— includes some 800 volunteers. For more information, access www.miap.us.<br /> <br /> Newsletter Serves Newer Vets<br /> <br /> A VA newsletter offers resources for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans interested in learning more about benefits, health risks and current news.<br /> <br /> The Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Review can be accessed online at www.publichealth.va.gov/ exposures/oefoif. Click on “Resources and Materials” in the upper right box to link to an electronic edition.Veterans also can order free hard-copy subscriptions at the site as well.<br /> <br /> Benefit Payments Will Go Paperless<br /> <br /> Within two years, the federal government plans to phase out paper checks for benefits—including VA compensation pay- Ments.Veterans receiving paper checks will need to switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013. Those applying for benefits on or after May 1, 2011,will receive their payments electronically.<br /> <br /> Benefit recipients also can choose to have their payments deposited into a Direct Express debit MasterCard account. More than 1.5 million beneficiaries have signed up for the Direct Express program since 2008.<br /> <br /> According to the Treasury Department, the change to a paperless system will save taxpayers $120 million annually and will save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years. Treasury says veterans receiving paper checks can switch to direct deposit by calling its processing center at 1-800-333- 1795, talk directly with their bank or credit union or access www.GoDirect.org.<br /> <br /> GI Bill Changes Coming in August<br /> <br /> President Obama in January signed into law a bill that offers more benefits for some veterans, cuts benefits for others and reduces projected costs to the federal government. P.L. 111-377, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act, is designed to fix problems that arose during the first year of the bill’s implementation.<br /> <br /> But those changes “create even more inequities,” according to a former ranking member of the House VA Committee.<br /> <br /> “If you went out and surveyed the average student-veteran, I believe they would oppose improving their own benefits at the expense of some of their comrades,” said former Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.).<br /> <br /> Most of the changes take effect Aug. 1, 2011. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this latest version of the Post-9/11 GI Bill will save the government $734 million over 10 years.<br /> <br /> Here are the main upgrades in benefits:<br /> <br /> • National Guard and Reserve troops can apply their activeduty time since Aug. 1, 2009, as part of the Active Guard and Reserve and mobilizations, toward earning benefits.<br /> <br /> • Active-duty troops and their spouses using transferred benefits will be eligible for the $1,000 book allowance.<br /> <br /> • Distance-learning students will be eligible for one-half of the national average living stipend.<br /> <br /> • Fees for licensure and certification tests, as well as living stipends, for veterans pursuing vocational training will be covered.<br /> <br /> The law also cuts or modifies some existing benefits:<br /> <br /> • Living stipends for students attending less than full time will be prorated.<br /> <br /> • Payment for active-duty troops attending private schools will be capped at $17,500 annually, but they can still apply for Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to cover fees exceeding The cap at schools that participate.<br /> <br /> • Troops released from active-duty because of medical or hardship conditions that are not service-connected will now be required to have an honorable discharge.<br /> <br /> • Family members can only use transferred benefits from one service member at a time.<br /> <br /> • Benefits will no longer be paid between school terms, except in emergencies, such as when schools are closed by presidential order.<br /> <br /> Law Forces Accounting at Arlington<br /> <br /> A law enacted in December seeks to ensure better management of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Public Law 111-339 requires the Army secretary to provide Congress a full accounting of all 320,000 graves and an evaluation of management practices at the Army-run cemetery.<br /> <br /> According to the House VA Committee, the law requires a report by Dec. 22, 2011, that includes notification of any gravesite discrepancies, an accounting of all contracts and a status update on implementation of recent Army directives.<br /> <br /> One in Five Flunk Army Entry Test<br /> <br /> One in five high school graduates who took the Army’s entrance exam between 2004 and 2009 failed to qualify, according to a report from a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit educational organization. Results showed a marked disparity in failure rates among white, black and Hispanic applicants.<br /> <br /> The Education Trust, which seeks to improve America’s K-12 education systems, issued the report Shut Out of the Military in December. It is billed as the first-ever public analysis of data from the Army’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB )—which determines if applicants qualify to enlist in the military.<br /> <br /> It studied results from nearly 350,000 high-school graduates aged 17-20 and focused on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), comprised of four academic subsets of the ASVAB.Here are some of the findings:<br /> <br /> • The failure rate for whites was 16%, 29% for Hispanics and 39% for blacks.<br /> <br /> • More than 43% of white recruits scored in the top two categories on the AFQT, while less than 25% of Hispanic recruits and less than 18% of black recruits scored in this range.<br /> <br /> • The states in which more than 30% of applicants scored too low to enlist were Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington,D.C.<br /> <br /> • States with less than 15% failure rates were Idaho, Indiana,Nebraska,New Hampshire and Wyoming. For more information—including The Education Trust’s full report—access www.edtrust.org.

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