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Posted at 08:30 AM on Friday, March 7, 2008 by post6787In This Issue:
1. VA Proposal Would Charge Disabled Vets for Care
2. House VA Committee Hearings
3. President Announces Troop Withdrawal
4. Don't Ask, Don't Tell
2. House VA Committee Hearings: The House VA Committee had a busy week of hearings.
* Subcommittee on Health: VFW testified on several recently-introduced bills designed to expand healthcare options for veterans. VFW supported all four bills with special emphasis on HR 1211, "The Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act." The legislation would expand access and improve upon VA's current services for female veterans. With the number of female service members increasing, and those using VA after service on the rise, there is no better time for VA to begin enhancing access and improving its services for this unique group of veterans.
* Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs: An oversight hearing was held on a recent VA Inspector General report that investigated document mishandling at several VBA regional offices. Belinda Finn, Assistant Inspector General for Auditing, discussed the vulnerability of veterans' claims and the accuracy of benefit claim dates. Some of the new committee members questioned the need for duplicate documents being provided by veterans. Chairman John Hall (D-NY) asked Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Michael Walcoff about the status of VA's electronic medical file project. Hall noted that moving quickly on implementation would help VA to move away from endless files, thus reducing the chance for loss. The VSO panel discussed accountability, demands made on employees to finish claims quickly and overall lack of management at senior levels.
* Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity: VFW presented testimony on a host of bills regarding employment, vocational rehabilitation, education benefits, USSERA, and VA's homeless program. One of the bills, HR 950 introduced by VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA), did not garner the support of VFW or VA. The legislation would allow distance learning students to be eligible under the new GI Bill for the same stipend as those students attending regular college classes. Under current law, the new chapter 33 education benefits will not pay living stipends to distance-learning students. To qualify for the stipend, a person must have at least one class in a regular classroom and carry a credit load that makes them at least a half-time student. VFW testified that Filner's bill would create an inequity by paying living stipends that are not based on actual costs that veterans would face while going to school.
To read VFW testimony and for more on the hearings, visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/.
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