Veterans Hotline: VA sets new goals for veteran claims

Below are excerpts taken from an interview with Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

The VA will have “no claim over 125 days and a 98-percent accuracy rate,” Shinseki told thousands of Legionnaires. “Our average is now 160 days. Our goal is not to average 125 days. Our goal is no claim over 125 days, with 98-percent accuracy.”

Two recent developments have arisen, though: The easing of proof requirements for veterans seeking VA benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and the addition of three diseases to those VA presumes were caused by exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

With some 97,000 new claims already pouring into the VA every month, the Agent Orange decision alone is expected to add more than 250,000.

The secretary said increased staffing, an enhanced online-application process and the solicitation of best practices from staff around the country will help VA climb out of the backlog hole.

The VA will also be reconsidering past denial claims.

For more information, refer to November’s American Legion magazine.

National Family Caregivers Month

Caregivers provide a valuable service to veterans by assisting them beyond the walls of VA medical facilities with support such as accessing the health care system, providing emotional and physical support, and allowing injured veterans to stay in their homes rather than living their lives in an institutional setting.

Caregivers help veterans maintain a better quality of life and gain more independence.

As the veteran population ages and continues to increase, the role of caregivers as partners in supporting veterans is even more prevalent.

Some of the programs are:

• In-home and community-based care.

• Respite care.

• Caregiver education and training programs.

• Family support services.

VA also provides durable medical equipment and prosthetic and sensory aides to improve function, financial assistance with home modification to improve access and mobility, and transportation assistance for some veterans to and from medical appointments.

Food for thought

Due to the president’s promise to pull all of the combat troops out of Iraq by August, one outfit called the Heavy Brigade Combat Team has changed its name to the Advise and Assist Brigade.

The outfit has the same personnel/equipment layout as before, doing the same mission as before, but their name has changed.

Veterans Day

Services were conducted Thursday — Veterans Day — at Moffat County High School and included a strong presence by our local veterans. The public was invited to participate, as well.

The U.S. Marine Corps also marked its 235th anniversary this week.

For information on these programs and/or other veterans’ benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County Veterans Service Office at 480 Barclay St., west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot.

Call 824-3246 or use the fax at 824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net.

The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Other times can be arranged by appointment only.

Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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