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VA Budget Proposal for 2012

Congress Receives $132b VA Budget Proposal for 2012

by www.fedweek.com

Armed Forces News

The Obama Administration's proposed $132 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs includes $51 billion for health care, with provisions for mental health, suicide prevention, new medical facilities, greater benefits for health-care providers, and research. Another $70 billion would pay for benefits programs, and continue VA's efforts to reduce the byzantine backlog of pending disability compensation and pension claims. Other provisions include:


* $940 million for homelessness programs;

* $11.5 million for education and training programs;

* $3.2 billion for information technology operations;

* $590 million for construction;

* And $250 million for maintenance and operations of national cemeteries.


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Vets Can't get Treatment

Vets Can't get Treatment; Army admits Records Destroyed

 

Operation Desert Storm, which pushed Iraqi troops out of Kuwait but kept Saddam Hussein in power, took a huge toll on American servicemen and women.

159,705 veterans were injured or became ill, and 10,617 veterans have died of combat related injuries or illnesses since the initiation of the Gulf War during August 1990. Since the second Gulf War began, there have been another 5,884 casualties.

Most of the veterans we talked to for this story say they are aware when they sign their name on the dotted line, they might not come home or could be wounded. However, they say that it is part of the job.

The Gulf War veterans that were talked to also asked us not to identify them.

As one told us, it's the government and he knows what the government is capable of doing and he doesn't want his name out there.

One solider trying to get help from the Veterans Administration for combat-related injuries says he has been turned down, because his records are missing. He says he has all the medical records for the time he was in the states, but the records for everything that happened outside of the country are gone.

The VA has heard similar complaints before, but a letter from the Department of the Army that has never been made public before, says after Desert Storm ended, units were told to destroy their records since there was no room to ship the paperwork back to the states. The letter goes on to say it was in direct contradiction to existing Army Regulations.

READ: Army letter confirms medical records were destroyed (PDF)

We showed Andrew Marshal -- the regional director of the Disabled American Veterans -- the letter and he said he was surprised they were told to do that and that the Army put it in writing. Marshal says, "This could have been one, five, six, a couple of hundred or this could be thousands [of soldiers]. You don't know."

Marshal says there should have been backups to the records destroyed in the Persian Gulf. But in the Army's letter, it says several years after soldiers began putting in medical claims, it was discovered all records below the brigade level no longer existed. When we showed this to Marshal, he agreed some of the records could have been destroyed.

It's not just the after-action reports that have been destroyed or are missing. Files we've obtained show when some veterans come to the Veterans Administration to get help for service-related disabilities, there are records to show they served, but their medical records are nowhere to be found. That means when the vets make the claims, they have to be turned down.

Another Gulf War vet told us there is no recourse and that disturbs him the most.

This Gulf War veteran served 20 years in the Army. The Veterans Administration has documentation he served in the 82nd Airborne division as an Army ranger and made 125 parachute jumps. All of his claims, including hearing loss, ankle and back injury, have been denied because efforts to obtain service medical records for all potential sources were unsuccessful. He says all his medical records are gone.

The Department of Defense does have records and sent a letter telling this same soldier that he and others in his unit were in an area where exposure to nerve agents sarin and cycolossarin was possible, but they should not worry about any bad affects.

The vet is skeptical about the claim that the nerve agent won't harm him. "So we all got exposed to nerve agent as well, and according to the military, that is never going to affect us. They just wanted to advise us that we've been exposed."

He says when he put on the uniform, he and his fellow soldiers put their lives on the line. But they feel as if the nation is turning its back on them, now that they are home and have injuries incurred while trying to keep the country safe.

Indian Rocks Congressman Bill Young has never seen the Army letter until now. His office is asking the Defense Department to look into the matter and see how many this affects.


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Calling All PA Gulf War Veterans

Gulf vets not taking advantage of service bonuses

By Ed Blazina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wanted: Pennsylvania military veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.

What for: to make use of a $20 million fund that pays state service bonuses of up to $525.

Since the program began over a year ago, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has approved 5,238 claims worth $2.32 million. To state Rep. Jake Wheatley -- who served in the war -- that's not a high enough number of servicemen taking advantage of the bonus program.

"It is disheartening to a degree," said Mr. Wheatley, D-Hill District. "As we start to turn up the publicity, I'm hopeful [the applications] will pick up."

Kevin Cramsey, a spokesman for the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, said the department is satisfied with the response. He said the program originally anticipated that as many as 30,000 veterans would be eligible for the bonus, but now the department thinks 15,000 to 20,000 is a more reasonable number.

"If we hit one-third of the people eligible in the first year, that's doing pretty well," Mr. Cramsey. "We'll still be doing outreach and more publicity to try to get as many as we can."
Under the program, Gulf War veterans who live in Pennsylvania can receive $75 for each month or fraction of a month they served in the Persian Gulf if they received the Southwest Asia Service Medal, up to a maximum of $525. Veterans who were prisoners of war or the families of those who died as a result of military service injuries can receive $5,000 payments.

The fund was approved by voters in 2006 in a statewide referendum.
Ronald Conley, manager of Allegheny County Veterans Affairs, said it can be difficult to identify and contact Gulf War vets because they don't seem to have the same types of organizations as veterans from Vietnam, Korea or World War II.

"I kind of look at the Gulf War vets like the Korean veterans in that they almost seem like they are forgotten," Mr. Conley said. "It's tough to get the information out to everybody. There seems to be a lack of communication."

Mr. Cramsey said the state is trying different approaches to identify Gulf War vets. For example, the department has sent letters to everyone who has applied for a special Gulf War license plate to let them know about the potential bonus payment.
One item that may stifle applicants is the need to provide precise information on when they served, he said.

"There have been some people who have said it's not worth looking in the attic for their [formal service record] or writing to St. Louis to get it for a relatively small amount of money," he said.

Mr. Wheatley is ineligible for the bonus because he wasn't a Pennsylvania resident when he served, but he's pushing the program for those who are eligible.
"Getting the veterans the information sometimes is a difficult thing," he said. "I think a lot of the vets don't know the program is around."

The program runs until August 2015 and any money left over at that time goes back into the state treasury. To apply for the bonus or get more information, go to www.milvet.state.pa.us or call 717-861-8719.


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Calling All OH Gulf War Veterans

An estimated 200,000 Ohio veterans who served during the Persian Gulf,
Iraq and Afghanistan wars can now begin applying for one-time bonuses
from the state.

Similar to the bonuses the state has offered for service during past
wars and conflicts, Ohio will spend up to $200 million on the one-time
payments, which were approved by voters in November.

Veterans are eligible to receive $100 for each month of service in any
of the three wars, up to $1,000. Those who served elsewhere could get
$50 monthly, up to $500, while family members of veterans who died
during the recent conflicts are eligible for a payment up to $6,500.

Applications are available online HERE, at any
of Ohio's 88 county Veterans Services offices, or by calling
1-877-OHIO-VET

Applications must be filled out, notarized and submitted to:

Ohio Veterans Bonus
P.O. Box 373
Sandusky, OH 44871

"Of course, no amount of compensation is adequate to reward the
sacrifices they've made on our behalf," Gov. Ted Strickland said today.
"But these checks will help, perhaps, make a mortgage payment, put food
on the table or start a savings account. And these payments will say
something clearly and directly to our veterans: thank you."

Bill Hartnett, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services,
said checks will be sent within eight weeks of the receipt of an
application.

For additional information please click HERE.


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National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

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September 19 - 25, 2010 - San Diego, California

VA’s newest national program, the Summer Sports Clinic promotes rehabilitation of body and spirit by teaching summer sporting activities to Veterans with significant physical or psychological impairments. The Clinic offers such sports as surfing, sailing, kayaking, track and field, and cycling to Veterans who are newly injured from amputations, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other neurological disorders, all benefitting from the therapeutic environment offered at the Clinic. Each year, the events offered will vary, allowing greater exposure to new adaptive sports and recreational activities.

Fact Sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

Driving Directions

Venues

Photo Gallery

Vision

Information or Request an Application

For information or to request an application, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(858) 642-6426

Sponsors & Hosts

Sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, with significant support from Founding Sponsors Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Veterans Canteen Service Hosted by the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Contacts

Acting Event Director:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (970) 242-0731

Media Contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 461-7549


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