VA NEWS 571

#571
March 10, 2014

Hosts: Leah Mazar and Kevin Walls
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 13:36

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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25 Years of VA: Facts 16-20

A test participant uses thoughts to control a robotic arm and take a drink from a cup during a BrainGate experiment.

A 58-year-old Massachusetts woman who suffered a paralyzing brainstem stroke 15 years ago while working in her garden was able to serve herself coffee using the BrainGate system and a robotic arm. (Photo courtesy of BrainGate2.org)

The Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 elevated the administration into the Cabinet-level department we know today. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 25, 1988, and came into effect under the term of President George H.W. Bush on March 15, 1989.

To highlight our 25 years of service to Veterans, their families and survivors as the Department of Veterans Affairs, we’re sharing 25 facts you may not know about VA.  You can find facts 1-5 here, facts 6-10 here and facts 11-15 here.

  1. In 2013, VA posted an all-time annual record of 629,000 home loans guaranteed; nearly 90 percent of all VA loans are made with no down payment. In 2012, VA guaranteed its 20 millionth home loan.  In addition, VA maintains the lowest foreclosure inventory rate of any loan type on the market, despite the recent housing market crisis, and has helped prevent foreclosure for more than 335,000 Veterans since 2009.
  2. VA researchers and colleagues made headlines in May 2012 when they demonstrated that people with total paralysis could control robotic arms using only their thoughts. The revolutionary system called BrainGate, harnesses brain signals to command external devices. Watch the 60 Minutes story on BrainGate here.
  3. The National Cemetery Administration bested the nation’s top corporations and other federal agencies in a prestigious, 2013 independent survey of customer satisfaction, garnering the highest score in either the private or public sector in the history of the survey. For the fifth consecutive time, NCA ranked above other public and private sector organizations on the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.
  4. Since 2004, the American Customer Satisfaction Index survey has consistently shown that Veterans receiving inpatient and outpatient care from VA hospitals and clinics give a higher customer satisfaction score, on average, than patients at private sector hospitals.
  5. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect in 2009, VA has paid more than $38.9 billion in tuition and benefits to 1.16 million Veterans, Servicemembers and their families; and to the universities, colleges and trade schools they attend.

 

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Ceremony Recognizes Veterans’ “Conspicuous Gallantry”

Twenty-four Soldiers were presented the Medal of Honor today. Three of the living Medal of Honor recipients from today's #Valor24 Ceremony, Melvin Morris (right), Jose Rodela and Santiago Erevia are pictured here at the White House.

Twenty-four Soldiers were presented the Medal of Honor March 18. Three of the living Medal of Honor recipients from the #Valor24 Ceremony, Melvin Morris (right), Jose Rodela and Santiago Erevia are pictured here at the White House.

On March 18, 24 Army Veterans were awarded Medals of Honor for conspicuous gallantry, in recognition of their valor during major combat operations in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Read More »

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25 Years of VA: Facts 11-15

Homeless Veterans and others line up during the 16th annual Winter Haven Homeless Stand Down in Washington D.C. Jan. 25.

Homeless Veterans and others line up to register at the 16th annual Winter Haven Homeless Stand Down in Washington D.C. Jan. 25. VA and Veterans service organizations were present to provide assistance, handouts and services.

To highlight our 25 years of service to Veterans, their families and survivors as the Department of Veterans Affairs, we’re sharing 25 facts you may not know about VA. You can find facts 1-5 here and facts 6-10 here.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 elevated the administration into the Cabinet-level department we know today. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 25, 1988, and came into effect under the term of President George H.W. Bush on March 15, 1989.

  1. VA’s Center for Women Veterans  and the Center for Minority Veterans were established by law in 1994 to ensure that women and minority Veterans are aware of benefits, services and programs offered by VA.
  2. In 1991, VA researchers developed an electrical stimulation system that helps patients move paralyzed limbs and in 2007, a new, bionic ankle debuted at Providence VA Medical Center in July 2007. VA doctors and researchers developed this high-performance prosthetic device, which unlike any other prosthesis propels users forward using tendon-like springs and an electric motor.
  3. In 2003, VA conducted 50 million patient visits – an all-time high. My HealtheVet, an online health portal that helped Veterans take an active role in maintaining their health, was launched. Today, VA health care facilities average 236,000 outpatient appointments each day or nearly 90 million total outpatient visits in 2013.
  4. For more than 25 years the “Stand Down” program has provided vital care, benefits and services to homeless Veterans. Stand downs and local, state and federal partnerships with VA have led to a 24 percent reduction in the number of homeless Veterans since 2010.
  5. The National Cemetery Administration’s Gravesite Locator was made available online in 2004. More than three million records showing where Veterans and their family members have been buried in VA’s national cemeteries were made available online. Records for those buried in private cemeteries with VA grave markers after 1997 are also available in some cases.
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25 Years of VA: Facts 6-10

The Nashville National Cemetery in Madison, Tenn., was established in July, 1866; with most of the land acquired shortly after the Civil War. The original interments were the remains of soldiers removed from temporary burial grounds around Nashville’s general hospitals, as well as the Civil War battlefields at Franklin and Gallatin, Tenn., and Bowling Green and Cave City, Ky. There are 4,141 unknowns interred at Nashville National Cemetery. The stone wall around the cemetery and the limestone archway at the entrance were both constructed in 1870. The present lodge, the third constructed at the cemetery, was built near the site of the original lodge and was completed in 1931. Nashville National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

The Nashville National Cemetery in Madison, Tenn., was established in July, 1866; with most of the land acquired shortly after the Civil War. The original interments were the remains of soldiers removed from temporary burial grounds around Nashville’s general hospitals, as well as the Civil War battlefields at Franklin and Gallatin, Tenn., and Bowling Green and Cave City, Ky. There are 4,141 unknowns interred at Nashville National Cemetery.
The stone wall around the cemetery and the limestone archway at the entrance were both constructed in 1870. The present lodge, the third constructed at the cemetery, was built near the site of the original lodge and was completed in 1931. Nashville National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 elevated the administration into the Cabinet-level department we know today. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Oct. 25, 1988, and came into effect under the term of President George H.W. Bush on March 15, 1989.

Fulfilling that sacred trust is the mission is of today’s VA and its nearly 340,000 employees, approximately 32 percent of whom are Veterans themselves.
To highlight our 25 years of service to Veterans, their families and survivors as the Department of Veterans Affairs, we’re sharing 25 facts you may not know about VA. Read more about the first five here. Here are facts 6-10:

  1. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s cemeteries on more than 20,000 acres of land. On Nov. 11, 1998, the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-368) was signed into law, officially re-designating the National Cemetery System as the National Cemetery Administration and authorizes 100 percent funding for VA State Cemetery Grants Program.  From 1992 to 2013, VA opened 20 new National Cemeteries, part of the “biggest expansion since the Civil War.”
  2. In each of the last four years, VA has processed more than 1 million disability compensation and pension claims – more than ever before. At the same time, we’ve increased decision quality. Veterans, their families and survivors received $227.5 billion for compensation and pension benefits over that 4-year period.
  3. VA’s telemedicine program and the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic program began in 1997, expanding Veterans’ access to earned care and services.
  4. The 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games were held in Tampa in 2013. Attracting more than 500 athletes each year, the NVWG is the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world.
  5. In 1994, groundbreaking VA research demonstrated that one aspirin tablet a day reduced by half the rate of death and nonfatal heart attacks in patients with unstable angina.
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25 Years of VA: 25 Facts You May Not Know

25 Years as a Cabinet Level Agency

With roots traceable back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony passed a law that provided support for disabled soldiers, the U.S. has created the most comprehensive system of assistance for Veterans of any nation in the world.

Since then, we’ve seen support for Veterans grow from pensions for disabled Revolutionary War soldiers in 1776, to the first domiciliary and medical facility authorized by the federal government in 1811, to expanded benefits and pensions for the widows and dependents of Veterans in the 19th century. In 1917, we saw new Veterans benefits when the U.S. entered World War I including disability compensation, insurance for Servicemembers and Veterans and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled. By the 1920s the benefits were administered by three different agencies – the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions at the Interior Department and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. These three agencies were consolidated into the Veterans Administration in 1930. Read More »

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The VA Seal: A Work of Artistry and Patriotism

For us VA employees it is a common sight. We see it every day as we enter our workplace. It is prominently displayed in VA lobbies, executive offices and conference rooms. One sees it in front ofthe podium whenever there is a VA speaker. This month it celebrates its 25th birthday. It is the VA seal.

On Oct. 25, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Act to establish the Veterans Administration as an executive department.

The legislation called for the act to take effect on March 15, 1989. With the elevation to cabinet status, the new department now needed a seal to replace the old Veterans Administration seal. And time was of essence because this needed to be done in about four months. Read More »

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Twenty-Five Years of Veterans Affairs – More than a Hundred Years of Service to Veterans

On Oct. 25, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed  Public Law 100-527, the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, into law.

On Oct. 25, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed
Public Law 100-527, the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, into law.

In 1930, President Herbert Hoover created the Veterans Administration by consolidating three existent organizations—the U.S. Veterans Bureau, the National Homes for Disabled Soldiers, and the Bureau of Pensions—into an organization of 54 hospitals, 31,600 employees and 4.7 million Veterans, many of whom had served in World War I, others who had fought in the Spanish-American War, and some even in the Civil War.

Nearly 60 years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988, elevating the former administration to a cabinet-level department. President Reagan explained, then, that the “bill gives those who have borne America’s battles, who have defended the borders of freedom, who have protected our Nation’s security in war and in peace—it gives them what they have deserved for so long: a seat at the table in our national affairs.”

Saturday, March 15, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of President Reagan’s executive action. This year’s celebration coincides with our ongoing commemoration of the American Civil War—the most divisive and devastating conflict in our nation’s history. President Abraham Lincoln’s charge to all Americans in 1865 has defined America’s covenant with its Veterans—“to care for [those] who shall have borne the battle, and for [their families and survivors].Read More »

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VA Health Care, the Affordable Care Act and You!

hangout

On Friday, March 14, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services and our community partners, VA is hosting a Google+ Hangout and information session to provide uninsured Veterans, their family members, caregivers and advocates information about health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act.

Join us at noon ET on the Google+ event page – or on the VA website to learn more about what the Affordable Care Act means to Veterans and family members.

VHA’s Lynne Harbin, deputy chief business officer, member services chief business office; HHS’s Catherine Oakar, director of public health policy in the office of health reform; VA subject matter experts and community partners will be available to provide information and resources to uninsured Veterans, their family members, caregivers and advocates about the Affordable Care Act and how they may enroll in quality health care.

The Affordable Care Act expands access to coverage, and helps to improve health care quality and care coordination. The health care law does not change VA health benefits or Veterans’ out-of-pocket costs.

As a Veteran enrolled in VA health care, you don’t need to take any additional steps to ensure you meet the health care law coverage standards and eligible Veterans not enrolled can do so at any time.

Read More »

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Lincoln’s Commute Was as Long as Yours is Today

This is part two of the blog “President Lincoln: Spending Time with Disabled Veterans.”

President Lincoln’s Cottage is located three miles northeast of the White House. While he was living there he would commute daily to the White House, War Department or Capitol.

“Some scholars have called Lincoln the nation’s first commuter because he made that 45-minute commute each way, and that’s very similar to what a lot of Washingtonians have to deal with today,” said Erin Mast, the director at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Lincoln's Commute Route

Lincoln’s Commute Route

He would take Rhode Island Avenue to Vermont Avenue to get to the White House, a route which at the time didn’t go through the best areas of Washington, D.C. But, Lincoln felt that the commute connected him to the common plights of the nation. He would ride past contraband camps that were basically refugee camps used by newly-freed men, women and children.

There are also many references from District residents who routinely exchanged greetings with the president on his daily commute. One such resident was the poet Walt Whitman. Whitman wrote of the president’s demeanor in which, over time, he saw deeper sadness and stress, a product of a war-time presidency.

Local residents became familiar with Lincoln’s commute and that became a problem. There are even a few sources that indicate Lincoln was nearly assassinated during his commute. Read More »

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