DAVA Unit #15 - DAV's Auxiliary have their very own Web Page.
Posted: June 13, 2017
Over the past several weeks, DAV has received hundreds of inquiries from DAV members and other concerned parties regarding the proposal to eliminate the total disability rating based on Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits for veterans over the age of 62 contained in the President's fiscal year 2018 budget. Specifically, the proposal would terminate existing IU total disability ratings for veterans when they reach the minimum retirement age for Social Security purposes (age 62), or upon enactment of the proposal if the veteran is already in receipt of Social Security retirement benefits. In the May 24 House Veterans' Affairs Committee budget hearing, DAV expressed its strong opposition to this proposal. We are aware that the elimination of these benefits would affect not only the veteran's family income, but other critical ancillary benefits, such as dental coverage, Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance, the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA), commissary and exchange privileges, and the value of Social Security benefits. Additionally, this will impact access to some state benefits such as property tax exemptions for veteran homeowners, free vehicle registration and free access to state parks.
Please be assured this is a key priority for DAV and we are trying to respond to your phone calls and email messages as quickly as possible. DAV is actively working to educate Capitol Hill lawmakers and the public about the devastating impact this proposal would have upon service-disabled veterans and their families.
Steps DAV has already taken:
Action alert for members: DAV members and their supporters have sent almost 24,000 emails to Members of Congress through the DAV Commander's Action Network, advising them of our strong opposition to the proposal.
Testimony: On May 24, 2017, DAV, along with our Independent Budget (IB) partners, Paralyzed Veterans of American and Veterans of Foreign Wars, testified on the Administration's budget to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and expressed our opposition to the IU proposal. DAV and its IB parnters will again condemn the IU proposal at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on June 14th at 2:30 PM. There will be a live feed of the hearing on that day.
Press Release: The IB veterans service organizations issued a press release concerning our opposition to the President's budget and IU proposal on May 25, 2017.
OP/ED from DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine to be distributed to major media outlets nationwide.
Meetings with Members of Congress to educate them about the negative impact of the IU proposal on veterans and their families.
Letter to House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees and Congressional leadership to highlight the impact of the IU proposal and express our strong opposition to it.
Developing an information sheet for DAV members to use in their own meetings and conversations with elected officials
Please keep in mind this is ONLY a proposal and the start of the budget process. But it is critical we protect our benefits by educating our elected officials about the negative impact this proposal would have on service-disabled veterans and their families. Please send a message to your elected officials to express your views on this important issue. We appreciate your support in our efforts to assure that America's veterans with wartime injuries and illnesses continue to receive all the benefits they are due from a grateful nation.
Congressman Raul Ruiz introduced H.R. 1618, the Support Our Services (SOS) to Veterans' Caregivers Act. The bill would amend the law to allow VA to assist caregivers who are supporting the needs of veterans with serious illnesses related to military service. Such illnesses of veterans might include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), cancer or other devastating illnesses that can leave veterans completely dependent upon others for help.
Caregiver assistance has been critical for supporting family members of post 9/11 veterans who have turned their lives upside down to address the often constant care demands of gravely injured veterans. Under the current program, caregivers are provided assistance with training and technical support to manage their loved ones' care needs. Even more importantly, VA is authorized to provide health care coverage and counseling for the caregiver, at least 30 days of respite care, and a small stipend for the caregiver so they are not impoverished by the commitment they have made to meet their loved ones' needs.
Ruiz views his legislation as a correction for an unintentional oversight that has left the needs of thousands of caregivers assisting veterans with serious illness, rather than injury, unaddressed. It would also require VA conduct an annual multidimensional assessment to measure the impact of caregiving on the overall health and wellness of caregivers.
DAV Resolution No. 131 supports comprehensive assistance for caregivers of veterans with wounds, injuries or illness from all eras of service.
Please write your Representative asking him or her to cosponsor and support the final passage of H.R. 1618. Thank you for your participation in the Commander's Action Network.
On March 21, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Jon Tester, introduced S. 681, the Deborah Sampson Act. This comprehensive measure addresses gender disparities and would improve and expand programs and services for women veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The bill would establish a pilot program for peer-to-peer counseling and authorizes group retreat counseling for women veterans recently separated from military service. It would expand the capabilities within the VA Women Veterans Call Center and extend the number of days, from seven to 14, VA can cover the cost of care for newborns of women veterans and authorize medically-necessary transportation for newborns.
The legislation aims to eliminate barriers to care by ensuring every VA medical facility has at least one full-time or part-time women's health provider, as well as a Women Veterans Program Manager and a Women Veteran Program Ombudsman. Additional resources are authorized for mini-residency training in women's health for clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy, safety and improve the overall environment of care for women veterans.
S. 681 would provide support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance and authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting women veterans and their families. Finally, The Deborah Sampson Act would require data collection and reporting on all VA programs serving veterans, by gender and minority status, including a report on the availability of prosthetics for women veterans and would better coordinate outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on VA's website.
DAV's 2014 report, Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home identified many of these gaps in VA programs for women and has long advocated for a more comprehensive provision of VA women's health services that appropriately recognizes and honors their service and sacrifice.
Please contact your elected representatives to urge co-sponsorship and passage of S. 681. A letter has been prepared for this purpose or you may write your own to express your personal views. Click the link below to log in and send your message: