Veterans Affairs – 20th CVETSMEM http://20thcvetsmem.org/ Fri, 30 Apr 2021 09:33:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.1 https://20thcvetsmem.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/default1.png Veterans Affairs – 20th CVETSMEM http://20thcvetsmem.org/ 32 32 Obtain a VA loan when deploying https://20thcvetsmem.org/obtain-a-va-loan-when-deploying/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/obtain-a-va-loan-when-deploying/#respond Fri, 30 Apr 2021 04:10:47 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/obtain-a-va-loan-when-deploying/ At any given time, a multitude of US military personnel are stationed or deployed overseas. While away from home, it is possible for servicemen on active duty overseas to secure a mortgage – a VA loan or whatever – and purchase a home, thanks to remote capabilities. Should You Get a VA Loan? Military service […]]]>


At any given time, a multitude of US military personnel are stationed or deployed overseas. While away from home, it is possible for servicemen on active duty overseas to secure a mortgage – a VA loan or whatever – and purchase a home, thanks to remote capabilities.

Should You Get a VA Loan?

Military service offers many benefits, and one is the VA mortgage program. A VA loan allows those with honorable military service, or eligible surviving spouses, to finance the purchase of a home or refinance an existing mortgage on attractive terms. These include:

  • No minimum credit – Unlike other types of mortgages, VA loans do not have a minimum credit rating requirement from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to meet, which allows mortgage lenders some flexibility when qualifying a borrower .
  • No down payment – You don’t need to make a down payment to qualify for a VA loan. Mortgage lenders generally prefer borrowers to make a 20% down payment on a home, but since this is not financially practical for many, there are insured mortgage programs that allow a much lower down payment, such as FHA loans. The VA approach is different: borrowers don’t need anything up front.
  • No mortgage insurance – Unlike other low down payment programs that require mortgage insurance if the borrower puts in less than 20 percent, there are no mortgage insurance premiums for a VA loan. There is, however, an upfront finance charge, the cost of which depends on how much you put in (if you’re making a down payment) and how many times you’ve used the VA loan program.

Even if you qualify for a conventional mortgage or the like, a VA loan can help you buy a home with minimal upfront cost, so it’s worth considering an option if you, a family member, or a family member of your household are active. duty or a veteran.

If you are currently on active duty, be aware that there is a minimum service requirement for a VA loan: 90 consecutive days. If you meet this minimum, then you can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which you need to get the loan. To do this on active duty, you need a signed service statement from your commanding officer, warrant officer or personnel officer. Once you have this service declaration, you can request your COE through the eBenefits portal.

Why buy a house during deployment

Part of military service is the possibility of having to travel as needed, often on short notice. If you are currently renting out or are already a homeowner and need more space, you can still buy a home even when deploying. The benefits of buying a home include:

  • Low mortgage rates
  • No lease (if you are a tenant)
  • Stability for family members, especially children

What to consider when buying a home abroad

If you (or a family member) are deployed and are looking for a home, you will not have the option to search for property in person. A spouse, other family member, or real estate agent can help, and you might even be able to take a virtual tour or a 3D virtual tour yourself.

Beyond finding a home, you’ll also need help managing the mortgage loan process. Keep these three points in mind:

1. Granting of a power of attorney

While you are deployed, you can designate a person or entity to represent your interests in purchasing a home with a power of attorney (POA). To grant a power of attorney, you will need the help of a lawyer, legal clinic, or Judge Advocate General (JAG). Each of these professionals can also recommend additional legal steps to take, depending on your situation.

In many cases, the military will grant a power of attorney to a spouse so that the spouse can perform tasks such as signing documents on their behalf. When considering who to appoint, ask these questions:

  • What powers will you give the person?
  • Do you want to set limits?
  • How long will the POA last?
  • Can you revoke the POA at any time?
  • Can you name a backup?

You will also want to confirm with the closing or title agent what POA documentation they will need to close your mortgage.

2. Meet occupancy requirements

A condition of VA financing is that the borrower must live in the house, which can be a problem if you are deployed.

Typically, borrowers have a “reasonable time” to move in after their VA loan is closed. “Reasonable” is defined as 60 days, but can be longer if you can certify that you will be living in the house on a specific date within 12 months of closing. If you are on active duty and cannot meet the “reasonable” standard, a spouse or dependent child may live in the house to meet this occupancy requirement.

However, if you are deployed, you already meet the occupancy requirements. As stated by VA:

“Single or married service members, when deployed from their permanent duty station, are considered to have temporary duty status and able to meet the conditions of employment. This is true regardless of whether or not a spouse will be available to occupy the property prior to the veteran’s return from deployment.

3. Verification of military status

It is important to verify your military status before looking for a home or applying for a mortgage.

VA loans are limited to those with qualifying military service. Under the Military Civilian Relief Act (SCRA), military personnel have access to benefits such as protection against seizure. For this reason, when considering a VA loan application, mortgage lenders should verify the borrower’s active service and other service-related information.

The Defense Workforce Data Center (DMDC) maintains a military service verification website. There are also commercial providers who provide this information to lenders. It is best to consult your lender for specific details regarding what you need.

At the end of the line

VA loans have unique benefits that can make buying a home more affordable, and you can still get one while you (or a family member) are deployed, as long as your service qualifies you. Appointing a power of attorney can help you manage the purchase of the home on your behalf while you are away, and your lender can advise you on the documents you need to verify your military status.

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Fed. Circ. Weighs on the costs of EAJA in partial victories https://20thcvetsmem.org/fed-circ-weighs-on-the-costs-of-eaja-in-partial-victories/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/fed-circ-weighs-on-the-costs-of-eaja-in-partial-victories/#respond Fri, 30 Apr 2021 00:51:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/fed-circ-weighs-on-the-costs-of-eaja-in-partial-victories/ Law360 (April 29, 2021, 8:51 p.m. EDT) – The Federal Circuit released a previous ruling on Thursday clarifying that the government is still obligated to cover attorney fees arising from initial reviews of cases for those who prevail against it in cases civil actions, even if the litigants have not won their case on all […]]]>


Law360 (April 29, 2021, 8:51 p.m. EDT) – The Federal Circuit released a previous ruling on Thursday clarifying that the government is still obligated to cover attorney fees arising from initial reviews of cases for those who prevail against it in cases civil actions, even if the litigants have not won their case on all their claims.

According to the underlying case, US Army veteran Robert L. Smith partially won an appeal of a US Department of Veterans Affairs ruling on his benefits. He then requested that his attorney fees for the appeal be covered by the Equal Access to Justice Act, which requires the government to pay attorney fees for those who prevail …

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Doctors more likely to prescribe opioids on Covid’s ‘long hauls’, raising fears of addiction https://20thcvetsmem.org/doctors-more-likely-to-prescribe-opioids-on-covids-long-hauls-raising-fears-of-addiction/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/doctors-more-likely-to-prescribe-opioids-on-covids-long-hauls-raising-fears-of-addiction/#respond Wed, 28 Apr 2021 09:00:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/doctors-more-likely-to-prescribe-opioids-on-covids-long-hauls-raising-fears-of-addiction/ Covid survivors are at risk of a possible second pandemic, this time of opioid addiction, given the high rate of pain relievers prescribed to these patients, according to health experts. A new study in Nature has found alarming rates of opioid use among covid survivors with persistent symptoms in Veterans Health Administration facilities. About 10% […]]]>


Covid survivors are at risk of a possible second pandemic, this time of opioid addiction, given the high rate of pain relievers prescribed to these patients, according to health experts.

A new study in Nature has found alarming rates of opioid use among covid survivors with persistent symptoms in Veterans Health Administration facilities. About 10% of covid survivors develop a “long covid”, struggling with health problems that are often debilitating, even six months or more after a diagnosis.

For every 1,000 long-term patients, known as “long-haul” patients, treated at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility, doctors wrote nine more opioid prescriptions than they otherwise would have. , as well as 22 additional prescriptions for benzodiazepines, including Xanax and other addictive pills used to treat anxiety.

Although previous studies have shown that many covid survivors suffer from persistent health problems, the new article is the first to show that they use more addictive drugs, said Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, lead author of the ‘article.

He fears that even a seemingly small increase in the inappropriate use of addictive pain relievers will lead to a resurgence of the prescription opioid crisis, given the large number of covid survivors. More than 3 million of the 31 million Americans infected with covid develop long-term symptoms, which can include fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and memory problems known as “brain fog.” “.

The new study also found that many patients suffered from severe muscle and bone pain.

The frequent use of opioids was surprising, given concerns about their potential for addiction, said Al-Aly, chief of research and education at the VA St. Louis Health Care System.

“Doctors are now supposed to avoid prescribing opioids,” said Al-Aly, who has studied more than 73,000 patients in the VA system. When Al-Aly saw the number of opioid prescriptions he said, he thought to himself, “Is this really happening again?”

Doctors must act now, before “it is too late to do something,” Al-Aly said. “We need to act now and make sure people get the care they need. We don’t want this to turn into a suicide crisis or another opioid epidemic. “

As more doctors realize their addictive potential, new prescriptions for opioids have dropped by more than half since 2012. But American doctors are still prescribing many more drugs – which include OxyContin, Vicodin and codeine – than doctors in other countries, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University.

Some patients who became dependent on prescription pain relievers switched to heroin, either because it was cheaper or because they could no longer get opioids from their doctor. Overdose deaths have increased in recent years as drug dealers have started adding heroin to a strong synthetic opioid called fentanyl.

More than 88,000 Americans died of overdoses in the 12 months ending August 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts are now advising doctors to avoid prescribing opioids for long periods of time.

The new study “suggests to me that many clinicians still don’t get it,” Kolodny said. “Many clinicians have the misconception that opioids are suitable for patients with chronic pain.”

Covid hospital patients often receive a lot of medication to control pain and anxiety, especially in intensive care units, said Dr. Greg Martin, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Patients placed on ventilators, for example, are often sedated to make them more comfortable.

Martin expressed concern about the study’s results, which suggest patients continue to take medication unnecessarily after leaving the hospital.

“I am concerned that patients with covid-19, especially those who are critically and critically ill, will receive a lot of medication during hospitalization, and because they have persistent symptoms, the medications are continued after discharge from the hospital. ‘hospital,’ Martin said.

While some covid patients experience muscle and bone pain for the first time, others say the disease has intensified their pre-existing pain.

Rachael Sunshine Burnett has suffered from chronic back and foot pain for 20 years since an accident in a warehouse where she once worked. But Burnett, who was first diagnosed with covid in April 2020, said the pain quickly worsened 10 times and spread to the area between his shoulders and spine. Although she was already taking long-acting OxyContin twice a day, her doctor prescribed an additional opioid called oxycodone, which provides immediate pain relief. She was re-infected with covid in December.

“It has been a horrible and horrible year,” said Burnett, 43, of Coxsackie, New York.

Doctors should recognize that pain can be part of a long covid, Martin said. “We have to find the appropriate non-narcotic treatment for this, just like we do with other forms of chronic pain,” he said.

The CDC recommends a number of opioid alternatives – from physical therapy and biofeedback, to over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications that also relieve nerve pain.

Country also needs a comprehensive strategy to deal with the wave of post-covid complications, Al-Aly said

“Better to be prepared than to be caught off guard years from now, when doctors realize… ‘Oh, we have an opioid resurgence,” Al-Aly said.

Al-Aly noted that his study may not capture the full complexity of the needs of post-covid patients. Although women constitute the majority of long covid patients in most studies, most patients in the VA system are men.

The study of VA patients clearly shows that we are not ready to meet the needs of 3 million Americans with a long covid, ”said Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “We desperately need an intervention that will treat these people effectively.”

Al-Aly said covid survivors could need care for years.

“This is going to be a huge and significant burden on the health care system,” Al-Aly said. “A long covid will reverberate through the healthcare system for years, if not decades, to come.”

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Column: Protecting Our Heroes: Biparty Action Tackle Veterans’ Mental Health Issues | Notice https://20thcvetsmem.org/column-protecting-our-heroes-biparty-action-tackle-veterans-mental-health-issues-notice/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/column-protecting-our-heroes-biparty-action-tackle-veterans-mental-health-issues-notice/#respond Wed, 28 Apr 2021 04:00:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/column-protecting-our-heroes-biparty-action-tackle-veterans-mental-health-issues-notice/ America’s veterans have answered the call to serve their fellow citizens, but too many are returning home due to mental and emotional trauma. Often times, they need help making the transition home and reintegrating into their community, but they may not know where to seek help. The mental health issues facing veterans are unique and […]]]>


America’s veterans have answered the call to serve their fellow citizens, but too many are returning home due to mental and emotional trauma. Often times, they need help making the transition home and reintegrating into their community, but they may not know where to seek help.

The mental health issues facing veterans are unique and incredibly personal and, at an alarming rate, they can lead to tragedy.

Veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than those who did not serve. They also face other risks, including homelessness and drug addiction. As a country, we must do better.

Veterans sacrifice a great deal to protect our freedom and security. So it goes without saying that as a country we have an obligation to ensure that veterans have the support and resources they need and have won. That’s why we are collaborating on a bipartisan basis to improve mental health services and supports for those who have served to protect us.

One of the efforts we are focused on is leveraging the American Legion’s “National Week of Appeal” to connect veterans with each other and ensure they receive the care they need. .

The Buddy Check program recognizes that the best source of help for a Veteran may be a friend and veteran colleague who has had a similar experience, who understands their struggles, and who can provide peer support.

This peer support lets veterans know that they are not the only ones facing these challenges and that it is okay to ask for help.

Our bill calls on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as “Buddy Check Week”. The AV would work directly with nonprofit organizations that serve veterans, mental health experts, and members of the military to provide training opportunities for veterans to learn how to perform well-being checks. be and recognize the signs of suicide risk in other veterans.

This bill builds on the efforts of the American Legion and it is a real opportunity to help veterans be there for each other and remind all Americans that they should speak out s ‘they need support for mental health issues.

To further ensure that veterans receive the support they need, we have also reintroduced our National Green Alert Act.

For a variety of reasons, far too many veterans struggling with mental health issues and at risk of suicide go missing for long periods of time before being found. Our bill would help correct this by providing federal assistance to help states implement “green alert” systems.

With a state system in place, when a veteran goes missing, law enforcement and the public will be notified to help locate him and help them receive the proper care. This system would be similar to the Silver Alert system for older Americans and the Amber Alert system for children, and is a common sense step in helping veterans in need.

Passing and passing these two bills will be major steps in providing vital resources that can help improve and save lives. And we hope it also serves to demonstrate to veterans that their fellow Americans really want to be there for them, just as they have been for us.

There is simply no room for partisanship when it comes to supporting our nation’s heroes. When our men and women in uniform rise up to serve our country, whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, they are serving because they are united for the common purpose of protecting our country and our freedoms.

We are focused on taking this bipartisan approach to supporting veterans in Congress. And we will continue to work together, and with our colleagues on both sides, to provide veterans with the care they need and deserve.

Senator Maggie Hassan is a Democrat representing New Hampshire in the United States Senate. Senator Joni Ernst is a Republican who represents Iowa.



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New bill makes veterinarians eligible for health care https://20thcvetsmem.org/new-bill-makes-veterinarians-eligible-for-health-care/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/new-bill-makes-veterinarians-eligible-for-health-care/#respond Wed, 28 Apr 2021 00:53:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/new-bill-makes-veterinarians-eligible-for-health-care/ A new bill proposed in Congress would ensure that veterans dealing with illnesses related to exposure to military burns are no longer turned away by the Department of Veterans Affairs. What would you like to know Bill would provide VA health care for veterinarians affected by home exposure Burning stoves are used to dispose of […]]]>


A new bill proposed in Congress would ensure that veterans dealing with illnesses related to exposure to military burns are no longer turned away by the Department of Veterans Affairs.


What would you like to know

  • Bill would provide VA health care for veterinarians affected by home exposure
  • Burning stoves are used to dispose of wastes on military bases in the war zone
  • The practice is being phased out

Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA) support legislation that would provide these veterans with necessary health care.

The AV argues that exposure to fumes and carcinogens from these flaming garbage piles is not definitely linked to long-term illnesses among veterans.

“I know they are related. We know that, ”Bilirakis said. “We are working to prove it. But, in the meantime, our veterans should have access to health care – quality health care from the VA.

US Navy veteran Bill Sterbinsky was exposed to piles of burns, where waste is disposed of, daily during his stay in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Although he had no symptoms, he enrolled. in the burn register and has lost comrades to illnesses believed to be due to exposure to an outbreak.

“These burns leave families without beneficiaries, and the people who want to send us to be exposed to these things have a responsibility to respond to us when we get home,” he said.

Burning pits were widely used in the mid-2000s in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense has gradually phased out their use in recent years.





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Large-scale St. Louis VA study measures severity and scope of ‘long COVID’ https://20thcvetsmem.org/large-scale-st-louis-va-study-measures-severity-and-scope-of-long-covid/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/large-scale-st-louis-va-study-measures-severity-and-scope-of-long-covid/#respond Wed, 28 Apr 2021 00:39:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/large-scale-st-louis-va-study-measures-severity-and-scope-of-long-covid/ Many people with COVID-19 continue to suffer from widespread health problems months after recovering from their initial infection, researchers from the Saint-Louis Veterans Affairs health care system have found. In one study published this month in the journal Nature, researchers wrote that even after COVID-19 patients no longer tested positive for the coronavirus, they continued […]]]>


Many people with COVID-19 continue to suffer from widespread health problems months after recovering from their initial infection, researchers from the Saint-Louis Veterans Affairs health care system have found.

In one study published this month in the journal Nature, researchers wrote that even after COVID-19 patients no longer tested positive for the coronavirus, they continued to have serious or chronic health problems. The study of more than 73,000 patients with COVID-19 found that they sought care and medication more frequently than people who did not get sick.

“What we see in acute COVID, we are literally seeing the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, doctor at St. Louis VA hospital and one of the study’s authors. . “If you start looking at a long COVID, that’s what’s behind this tip. … Some people call this our next big health crisis. I don’t think this is an exaggeration.

Patients have seen higher incidences of problems – such as heart and kidney problems and mental health issues. The most common symptoms were respiratory symptoms. The so-called COVID-19 long-haul group has developed problems in virtually every organ, Al-Aly said.

“Our approach was designed to leave no stone unturned,” Al-Aly said. “We have looked at all the diseases that we know exist. Our report shows that the burden of COVID is considerable, that it is not really small, and that it can take different shapes and forms in different people. “

Patients who recovered from COVID-19 also had higher incidences of depression, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Study results confirm what Dr. Maureen Lyons, director of the University of Washington’s new Care and Recovery After COVID clinic, is seeing in his patients.

“Common symptoms include profound fatigue, inability to concentrate, inability to concentrate, headache, chest pain, chest pressure, high heart rate, and symptoms that affect all organs,” a- she declared. “The impact of COVID, even potentially what appears to be a mild case to begin with, can be quite impactful and can last for a long period of time and, frankly, an unknown period of time.”

Most of the long-term COVID patients who come to the clinic did not go to the hospital when they first fell ill, and many are younger and healthy people, he said. she declared. The average clinic patient is in his 40s.

The VA study found that while people with more severe cases of COVID-19 who required hospitalization were more likely to have ongoing health problems, even those with relatively mild cases of the disease developed long-term health problems.

The study authors say it’s not clear if or how the coronavirus is linked to these long-term health issues. The ongoing health problems could be caused by the virus continuing to live inside patients’ bodies, they wrote.

They also say it’s possible the virus could overload a patient’s immune system and make them sick.

Most of the VA patients in the study are male, reflecting the organization’s overall patient mix. Long-term COVID may be more prevalent in women, the study’s authors said.

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DVIDS – News – Alaska National Guard armory honor post restored by original artists, Vietnam veteran and son https://20thcvetsmem.org/dvids-news-alaska-national-guard-armory-honor-post-restored-by-original-artists-vietnam-veteran-and-son/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/dvids-news-alaska-national-guard-armory-honor-post-restored-by-original-artists-vietnam-veteran-and-son/#respond Wed, 28 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/dvids-news-alaska-national-guard-armory-honor-post-restored-by-original-artists-vietnam-veteran-and-son/ Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska – The Alaska National Guard Pole of Honor, which is a monument dedicated to the profound contributions of Alaska Natives to state security and heritage in the past and the present, sits proudly in front of the Alaska National Guard Armory here and is seen by all who enter the building. […]]]>


Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska – The Alaska National Guard Pole of Honor, which is a monument dedicated to the profound contributions of Alaska Natives to state security and heritage in the past and the present, sits proudly in front of the Alaska National Guard Armory here and is seen by all who enter the building. This 11.5-foot post, built by George Bennett Sr., a Vietnam War veteran and rural liaison veteran with the Alaska Department of Veterans Affairs, and his son, James Bennett, was remodeled from 16 to April 17 after 12 years in front of the building.

Although this structure has many similarities to totem poles in Tlingit culture, it is considered a “pole of honor”.

“As a pole of honor, it is no longer synonymous with one people,” explained James.

The pole of honor was originally carved out of red and yellow cedar in 2007 in Sitka by the Bennett’s. After helping friends and family paint it, the post was sent to Anchorage in 2008, where it arrived at the Office of Construction and Facilities building. While the post was there, Brig retired. General Mike Bridges took it upon himself to look after the honor post until he reached his final destination in front of the arsenal.

In 2015, the father-son duo traveled to Anchorage to clean the pole of honor in a ceremony. At this point, James also showed his gratitude to Bridges for taking care of the Pole of Honor by adopting it into their culture during the ceremony.

“With our culture, we treat it [the pole] like it’s a person, a living thing, so I respected that a lot, ”said James.

Bridges also bonded with George during their shared military experiences in the 25th Infantry Division. When he first met him, George was wearing a 25th ID hat in his service time, and Bridges had his 25th ID deployment patch.

“It sparked a kind of fellowship conversation, and then I found out that he was also working for the AV,” Bridges said. “It was important because I spent more time working with Verdie Bowen [the director of the Office of Veterans Affairs] and veterans at the time.

Bridges helped the Bennett’s restore the post of honor on April 17.

To restore the honor post, it was stripped down, sanded, and putty put in the cracks to keep the wood from expanding or molding.

“In our culture, we don’t restore totem poles because when they fall they come back home,” James said. “We just rebuild them. It is not a totem pole, it is an honor pole, which is why we can restore it.

Bennett said that, due to the symbolism of this particular pole, its restoration is appropriate.

The various parts of the pole of honor incorporate symbols of regional indigenous Pan-Alaskan cultures; the bowhead whale is for the north, the caribou is for the interior, the crow is for the southeast, the masks are for the southwest, and the box at the base that has “ATG” engraved in it for the guard Alaska Territorial is the “Spirit Box” that contains the names of National Guard veterans.

“The ATG box at the bottom, the basis of it all, contains the military spirit of these volunteers,” said George.

“We see this as a restoration of history,” added James. “That’s really what this pole is all these years later; it’s history, telling a story in a language that is very unique to this country. ”

Date taken: 04/27/2021
Date posted: 04.27.2021 20:00
Story ID: 394919
Location: JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK, United States

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Month to minute: VA platform connects homeless veterans to services faster https://20thcvetsmem.org/month-to-minute-va-platform-connects-homeless-veterans-to-services-faster/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/month-to-minute-va-platform-connects-homeless-veterans-to-services-faster/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 22:07:36 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/month-to-minute-va-platform-connects-homeless-veterans-to-services-faster/ The Department of Veterans Affairs is on its knees in several major IT modernization efforts, but sometimes seemingly minor improvements have the greatest immediate impact. VA made several upgrades to its Status Query and Response System (SQUARES) during the pandemic, allowing the agency to connect homeless veterans to services faster than ever. SQUARES is a […]]]>


The Department of Veterans Affairs is on its knees in several major IT modernization efforts, but sometimes seemingly minor improvements have the greatest immediate impact.

VA made several upgrades to its Status Query and Response System (SQUARES) during the pandemic, allowing the agency to connect homeless veterans to services faster than ever.

SQUARES is a cloud-based application that provides VA Homelessness Program employees and external service providers – such as shelters, food banks, state and local organizations, and nonprofits – a place to verify the identity and eligibility of a veteran.

Previously, veterans had to provide proof of service before they could begin receiving VA services under the department’s homelessness program, said Thomas Guido, senior director of the digital transformation center of GO.

“Most veterans would not have [documentation] than on them. This process could take up to two months to identify the veteran and verify their eligibility for different programs, ”he said in an interview. “This is really the big change. [With] this system now, it can be done in a few minutes. It takes about 10 minutes directly on the site of the service provider. “

The app integrates with the Master Veteran Index and the VA-DoD Identity Repository, which means SQUARES users can access these databases in one place.

The department has also built eligibility rules into the system itself, eliminating the need for a subject matter expert to manually apply VA rules to determine if a veteran can receive specific services, Guido said.

“There’s a lot more going on than just giving access to data,” he said. “This is actually a package that is most useful in a very simple and intuitive way for these suppliers.”

VA first developed SQUARES several years ago and the department’s digital transformation service has released several updates since. But these improvements took on new meaning during the pandemic.

“Certainly there were economic and housing tensions, especially for populations vulnerable with the pandemic, so changes and updates were made to support referrals to some of these additional services and programs – and also to identify where resources are available, ”Guido said. “It’s two-way. It’s not just a matter of verifying identity and eligibility. It’s about referral and tailoring services to the individual, the veteran who needs them, based on their current situation and available resources.

Tackling veteran homelessness has been a priority for VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development since 2010, when the two agencies formed a joint partnership to address the challenge. Both agencies succeeded in reducing homelessness among ex-combatants by 47% between 2010 and 2016.

But according to HUD’s most recent assessment, there were 37,252 homeless veterans in the United States on a single night in January 2020, a slight increase from 2019 numbers.

The hike involves VA Secretary Denis McDonough and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, who earlier this spring announced plans to review and update their homelessness strategies. The two secretaries said they would mobilize the forces of their departments to end the homelessness of veterans.

For Guido, this is where VA’s digital transformation hub can play a role.

“Often, IT people are disconnected from the front lines. We’re watching television. We are monitoring frontline workers and first responders who face situations, as well as the commitment, the courage and whatever is going on, ”he said. “I’m not suggesting that we feel this or that we experience this. But this is our opportunity… as IT professionals to shoulder some of that responsibility. We are the ones who empower these first responders or frontline workers. We put the tools in their hands so they can deliver the services more efficiently. It’s something that we try to convey to the team, that same sense of commitment [and] emergency. It is not that for that. “

SQUARES has grown during the pandemic to accommodate more users, more than 2,100 VA employees and partners today, up from 1,000 a year ago.

The SQUARES dashboard lets them see local data, number of requests, hotspots, which organizations are seeing the most activity, and what types of services are provided or need them most.

“That’s why this expansion is so important, expanding the app’s footprint,” Guido said. “The more organizations that use, the more complete this picture becomes.”

The department also improved the SQUARES user interface, allowing VA service partners to access the platform on any device. VA service providers can also automatically onboard more of their own users and give them easy access to the app.

SaaS and low-code solutions essential to the response to the VA pandemic

VA uses a low-code Salesforce platform to power SQUARES. Guido said software-as-a-service solutions and low-code or no-code platforms have been key to delivering, modifying and updating applications, like SQUARES, over the past year.

VA’s Office of Information and Technology has been busy during the pandemic, creating new applications or modifying others to meet an ever-changing list of frontline employee needs. The ministry, for example, has deployed a chat bot to correspond with veterans about their COVID issues.

He also developed a new dashboard to track vaccinations among VA employees, contractors and volunteers, Guido said.

The digital transformation center has delivered at least 30 COVID-19-related applications since the start of the pandemic, Guido said. He modified 20 others to meet the specific requirements of the pandemic.

“We have an average of around 92 days of production on the platform, which is very fast compared to some historical custom-developed type projects,” he said. “This not only allows us to get products to users quickly, but we can also continue to iterate and make changes quickly, month after month, as quickly as two weeks, or faster if needed. As policies change and situations similar to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can make those changes on the fly as needed. “

As is the case with SQUARES, sometimes it’s as simple as connecting the dots and putting together previously disparate pieces to make a difference, Guido said.

“This data existed before. Those old systems were there. These authoritative sources were there, ”he added. “But look at the significant or very significant change that has had on this program, just by adding this app. This is what we try to do, make these connections [and] Fill in the gaps where apps really add the most value. “



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Arkansas Virtual VA Veterans Experience Action Center Helps 657 Veterans https://20thcvetsmem.org/arkansas-virtual-va-veterans-experience-action-center-helps-657-veterans/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/arkansas-virtual-va-veterans-experience-action-center-helps-657-veterans/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 22:00:04 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/arkansas-virtual-va-veterans-experience-action-center-helps-657-veterans/ VA’s Veterans Experience Action Center (V-VEAC) began four years ago as a way to proactively help Veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors with a single resource for all of their needs. , including VA benefits and health care. Arkansas V-VEAC a huge success Map of Arkansas showing the number of veterans served April 6-8, 2021 […]]]>


VA’s Veterans Experience Action Center (V-VEAC) began four years ago as a way to proactively help Veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors with a single resource for all of their needs. , including VA benefits and health care.

Arkansas V-VEAC a huge success

Map of Arkansas showing the number of veterans served April 6-8, 2021 at the VA Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center.

VA worked with the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, United Way 211, and other community partners to host the latest Veterans Experience Action Center (V-VEAC) in Arkansas, April 6-8, 2021. This event was held on April 6-8, 2021. provided immediate action on the needs of 657 veterans. It should be noted that 177 of these were female veterans, an often underserved population. The number of veteran participants is particularly important as women make up only 7.9% of Arkansas Veterans, while 26.9% of V-VEAC registrants were female Veterans. Veterans from all branches of the service participated in this event, as well as Veterans from all eras of service from 1940 to those still in service who will soon join the ranks of Veterans.

Of the six VA Virtual Veterans Experience Action Centers that have taken place to date, Arkansas set a new record for the highest number of Veterans served while having the smallest population of Veterans compared to other states.

Other highlights to mention include:
  • There was an overall satisfaction score of 95% based on exit surveys that measured ease of access, staff efficiency, and emotional resonance of engagements.
  • There were 130 referrals to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) which resulted, among other services, in 66 new VHA registrations.
  • 151 referrals to the Veterans Benefits Administration.
  • 22 referrals to the National Cemetery Administration.
  • 42 referrals to VA Board of Veterans Appeals.
  • 23 referrals to Centraide 211.
What veterans say about V-VEACs

Veteran John Anderson said, “I have never felt so good about VA as I have today with you. I give you a big big A – You made me feel like I was appreciated and wanted.

Another veteran, John Weatherly, said during the exit survey: “I wanted to give a 6 out of 5 on the confidence score. You should open this up to more veterans. It’s great, and more veterans need to do it. I tell the other veterans they have to do it.

And finally, a veteran named James Milner said, “I have been doing business with VA for over 30 years, and this is the best service I have ever received.”

This innovative partnership between VA, the state government and its partners, county veterans service officers, community veterans engagement committees and other community partners continues to grow, mature and improve lives. veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors. Further V-VEACs are planned in the future.



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VA Prepares For Post-COVID Health Care As Demand For Vaccination Declines https://20thcvetsmem.org/va-prepares-for-post-covid-health-care-as-demand-for-vaccination-declines/ https://20thcvetsmem.org/va-prepares-for-post-covid-health-care-as-demand-for-vaccination-declines/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 21:58:52 +0000 https://20thcvetsmem.org/va-prepares-for-post-covid-health-care-as-demand-for-vaccination-declines/ Secretary McDonough said with declining demand for vaccines, the agency was preparing care for long-haul COVID patients. The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering a post-COVID modernization phase to continue to develop and strengthen the agency’s healthcare infrastructure and core IT resources, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough and Assistant Deputy Health Secretary for Clinical Services […]]]>


Secretary McDonough said with declining demand for vaccines, the agency was preparing care for long-haul COVID patients.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering a post-COVID modernization phase to continue to develop and strengthen the agency’s healthcare infrastructure and core IT resources, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough and Assistant Deputy Health Secretary for Clinical Services Dr Kameron Matthews briefed reporters at a press conference Monday.

Many of these projects aim to ensure a full vaccination of all veterans in the VA Network, as well as to treat the persistent symptoms experienced by “long-haul” COVID patients. The agency is currently exploring research projects to provide treatment and care for patients suffering from the sequelae of COVID, including through partnerships both within government and with academic institutions.

“We’re definitely looking to join the conversations across government, but also coordinate the various research initiatives across VA with our academic affiliates,” Matthews said. “But we shouldn’t just wait for research results. We really need to start treating these veterans as soon as possible. We are therefore going to develop, like other health systems, long interdisciplinary COVID clinics so that there can be several specialists who actually meet these veterans. We may not have all the answers and solutions in advance, but we include our research teams in the development of these clinics.. “

McDonough noted that in-person appointments at VA health facilities have increased significantly since the start of 2021, with veterans seeking treatment as a result of the widespread immunization.

Our planned community care appointments in March were 440,000. In February, they were 338,000. For direct care encounters completed in the VA system in March, there were 8,405,000 people. In February, it was 6,885,000 people. So what you see in those two cases is a big demand, “McDonough said.” This is a pretty big increase in care in the community. That’s more than any month back to January 2020 before the pandemic. “

The agency has also reached a point of widespread vaccination where daily appointments for vaccines are declining, a testament to the scale of VA vaccination efforts undertaken since the start of the new year.

“In terms of overall demand for our vaccines, I think two weeks ago we were probably between 50,000 and 75,000 vaccinations per day. Right now we’re between 25,000 and 30,000 a day, ”McDonough said.

With VA having fulfilled many of its core responsibilities of providing emergency support during a public health crisis, the agency is now seeking to broadly modernize its health care facilities to improve care delivery nationwide. Much of this is encompassed in recent allocations outlined in President Biden’s proposed US Jobs Plan, which would provide VA $ 18 billion for infrastructure development. McDonough noted that these infrastructure investments are vital to ensuring that VA health centers can also accommodate new technology without increasing additional maintenance costs.

“Our average hospital is 59 years old. This is compared to an average hospital age in the private sector of 11 years. The investment in new modernized facilities is overtaken by the investment in the maintenance of aging facilities, ”McDonough said. This is why I think the president’s $ 18 billion investment in America’s jobs plan is so important. “



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