VA News #582

#582
Aug. 11 & 18, 2014

Hosts: Lena Jordi-Cruzval & Jose Llamas
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 12:00

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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Conference looks to advance women’s health research within VA


VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service sponsored a conference titled, “Enhancing Partnerships for Research and Care of Women Veterans” July 31-Aug. 1 in D.C. The event brought together investigators pursuing research on women Veterans and women in the military with leaders in women’s health care delivery and policy within and outside VA to advance the state and impacts of women’s health research within VA. Attendees to the conference included policy leaders in VA women’s health and mental health services and other key program offices from VA as well as leaders from agencies outside VA including the Institute of Medicine, the Department of Health and Human Services’ office on women’s health, and the NIH office of research on women’s health.

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VA announces new grants to help end Veterans’ homelessness

Initiative targets 115,000 homeless and at-risk Vets and families

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald today announced the award of approximately $300 million in grants that will help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants will be distributed to 301 community agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

6760997621_bdb4b45838_bUnder the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, VA is awarding grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income Veteran families living in – or transitioning to – permanent housing. Those community organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among eligible very low income Veteran families (those making less than 50 percent of the area median income). The grants announced today will fund the fourth year of the SSVF program.

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VA Secretary McDonald delivers keynote speech during Disabled American Veterans conference

VA Secretary Robert McDonald speaks to a Disabled American Veterans conference Aug. 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (VA Photo / Reynaldo Leal)

VA Secretary Robert McDonald speaks to a Disabled American Veterans conference Aug. 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (VA Photo / Reynaldo Leal)

Secretary Robert McDonald delivered his first address to Disabled American Veterans at their annual conference on Aug. 9, 2014. His speech outlined the problems facing Veterans Affairs and the way ahead. He also reported on his recent visit to the Phoenix VA Medical Center, citing the issues that Veterans are personally telling him. Secretary McDonald also committed to collaborating with veteran service organizations such as DAV and marked it as a top priority in order to make the right changes in the days ahead.

He began by thanking DAV and looking forward.

“It is an honor and a privilege to give my first address as secretary to Disabled American Veterans,” McDonald said. “DAV’s contributions to VA reform discussions on Capitol Hill and across the nation have been of great help—without ever compromising the strong support and confidence you have given to VA for so long. Moving forward, that sort of counsel is going to remain invaluable to me, and I look forward to hearing it.” Read More »

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In Phoenix, Secretary McDonald announces independent review of all VA scheduling practices

Sec. Robert McDonald speaks with patients at the Phoenix VA Medical Center #ICARE

Sec. Robert McDonald speaks with patients at the Phoenix VA Medical Center #ICARE

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald today announced that VA has initiated an independent, nation-wide review of all scheduling practices at VA medical facilities. In his first trip as Secretary, McDonald also announced a series of additional actions to improve Veterans’ access to timely, quality health care following a series of meetings with Veterans and employees at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

“VA is committed to instilling integrity into our scheduling practices to deliver the timely care that veterans deserve,” said Secretary McDonald.  “It is important that our scheduling practices be reviewed by a respected, independent source to help restore trust in our system, and I’m grateful to the Joint Commission for taking on this critical task.”

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President Obama signs bill to give VA resources to improve Veterans’ care

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans' Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Va., Aug. 7, 2014. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Aug. 7. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier today, President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to sign a reform bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the necessary resources to improve access and quality of care for the men and women who have served our country in uniform.

In remarks before the bill signing, President Obama addressed the misconduct that has taken place at some VA facilities across the country — Veterans being denied the care they need, or long wait times being covered up.

“This is wrong,” the president emphasized. “It was outrageous. And working together, we set out to fix it and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took.”

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Platoon honors Veterans and Servicemembers at Arlington

Spc. Kevin Morthorst (right), infantryman, Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and members of his squad, return to the Caisson horse stables after performing various funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 9. On this day, Morthorst preformed his 1,000th memorial ceremony with the Caisson platoon. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Spc. Kevin Morthorst (right), infantryman, Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and members of his squad, return to the Caisson horse stables after performing various funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 9. On this day, Morthorst preformed his 1,000th memorial ceremony with the Caisson platoon. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luisito Brooks)

Most people know about The Old Guard and its role as caretaker of Arlington National Cemetery. Images of soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown, despite rain or snow, are famous throughout the world. However, the regiment’s mission is more involved than what meets the eye.

The Old Guard’s primary mission is to render honors and conduct the funeral ceremonies of departed Veterans and Servicemembers. They also assist grieving families in coping with the loss of a loved one.

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New resources help Veterans prevent identity theft

MRAN-VIctims638X308Identity theft is a problem in this country, and it’s not going away any time soon. With technology becoming more engrained in our lives each year, our information is more accessible than ever. If it’s not properly protected, criminals can wreak havoc on our financial and personal well-being.  According to Javelin’s 2013 Identity Fraud Report, identity theft occurred in the U.S. once every three seconds in 2013, costing Americans more than $21 billion.

Veterans are not immune to these threats, but there are ways to make it harder for cyber criminals to steal your identity. VA is making a push to give Veterans the knowledge they need to keep identity thieves at bay.

VA’s identity theft prevention campaign, More Than a Number, aims to educate Veterans and their beneficiaries on identity theft prevention. The campaign has two resources that are now available—an informational website  and a toll-free help line: 1-855-578-5492.

The help line, available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8p.m. ET, provides Veterans and their families a more personalized platform to find assistance and information on identity theft. The More Than a Number website houses identity theft prevention tips, next steps for identity theft victims, interactive media and links to some of the best identity theft prevention resources on the Web. Visitors to the site can also learn about some major initiatives that VA is using to help protect Veterans’ identities.

Don’t wait until it is too late to protect yourself from identity theft! Visit the More Than a Number website, or call the help line to take charge in safeguarding your identity.

Lowe, Stan-bw-frame

Stanley F. Lowe is the Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Security. Under Lowe’s direction, VA’s Office of Information Security works to prevent and mitigate the impact of any impending threats to VA’s IT infrastructure. He oversees the management of VA’s information security officers, cyber security program, privacy program, incident management and response capabilities, security operations, and business continuity efforts.

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Veteran, non-Veteran unemployment increases in July 2014

The July 2014 unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Veterans are, as a whole, doing slightly better than non-Veterans despite increases in unemployment.

The 12-month rolling averages show that Veterans and non-Veterans overall are doing better than they were a year ago. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment increased for the first time since February 2014.

July 2013 - July 2014 Unemployment Rolling Average

July 2013 – July 2014 Unemployment Rolling Average

Veteran unemployment rates increased by .6 percent while non-Veteran unemployment rates increased by .2 percent. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment rates increased by 2.2 percent. Read More »

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Secretary McDonald issues message to VA employees

SECVASecretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald today released the following message to VA employees:

MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY McDONALD

I am grateful to President Obama and to Congress for this opportunity to join the dedicated employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and I am honored to serve as your Secretary and lead VA.  We are immensely fortunate to work in an organization with the noblest and most respected mission in Government—serving this Nation’s Veterans.

We have strong institutional values—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.  We will all need to depend on and live by our values as we rise to meet the challenges ahead.  Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson—my West Point classmate, a trusted friend, and a great leader—had it right in his recent statement to Congress:  “We can turn these challenges into the greatest opportunity for improvement in the history of the Department.”

I recognize that the last few months have been difficult—and the days ahead will not be easy.  In fact, many tasks that we must accomplish will be difficult, but I assure you that I will be with you each step of the way.  I want to hear your ideas for improving the Department, and I will not tolerate those who stifle initiative, seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns or report problems, or lack integrity in word or deed.  Trust is essential in everything we do.

I am proud of the work you do and the mission we share, and I am determined to move forward to ensure that VA is the provider of choice for care and benefits for every generation of America’s Veterans.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming days.  God bless you all.

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