AMVETS in Action

Tag: Department of Veterans Affairs

AMVETS Deeply Concerned by President’s Proposed Cuts to Veteran Benefits


Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
(703) 628-9621

AMVETS Deeply Concerned by President’s Proposed Cuts to Veteran Benefits

AMVETS National Headquarters, May 24, 2017 – While AMVETS (American Veterans) is thankful for President Trump’s proposed 6 percent increase in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ fiscal year 2018 discretionary budget, AMVETS leadership is deeply concerned by the proposed cuts to earned benefits for perhaps the most vulnerable segment of the veterans population.

The Trump administration’s budget proposal contains a provision to cut Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits for seriously service connected disabled veterans aged 65 and older. This would steal a large percentage of a wounded, injured or ill veteran’s compensation.

The argument for this cut is that these senior citizens would be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits at age 65. That argument is flawed because these veterans have largely been disabled, out of the work force and not paying into Social Security for many years before reaching 65. Many have been severely disabled as a result of their military service and unable to work since the day of their discharge.

Such a misguided move would wrongly take away about $1,200 a month from a single veteran rated at 90 percent disabled and already determined to be unable to work because or his or her military service. The monetary loss rapidly increases for veterans with lower disability ratings. In all, this proposal threatens to strip benefits from more than 225,000 senior citizen veterans who’ve been seriously disabled as a result of their military service.

AMVETS strongly opposes this proposed cut and calls for its immediate withdrawal.

This cut, along with cuts to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for veterans, is being used to assure funding for a “choice” program that has yet to be adequately developed, let alone tested and proven.

AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years.


AMVETS Reacts To President Trump’s Executive Order on VA Accountability

For Immediate Release

Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
(703) 628-9621

AMVETS Reacts To President Trump’s Executive Order on VA Accountability

AMVETS National Headquarters, April 27, 2017 – The executive order President Donald Trump signed today directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection is a welcomed and necessary move toward encouraging whistleblowers and eliminating problem employees within the department, AMVETS (American Veterans) National Executive Director Joe Chenelly announced today.

“The VA has some of the most dedicated people in the American workforce, but the agency has been plagued by legal inability to hold accountable a very small number of bad actors disgracing the agency. AMVETS hopes this new effort finally gives leadership the resources and authority it needs to rid the VA of those who are doing veterans harm. In the same vein, we hope this enables Secretary Shulkin and his team to recruit and retain the very best,” Chenelly said. “We are encouraged that this effort focuses on protecting and supporting brave whistleblowers who step up when they see something wrong. Hopefully this is real reform that rewards courage and integrity while stomping out whistleblower reprisal.”

AMVETS is the largest and oldest Congressionally chartered veterans service organization open to and fighting for all veterans who have honorably served in the United States armed forces, including the Reserve and National Guard.

Media interested in speaking with Chenelly may contact AMVETS Communications Director John Hoellwarth at the phone number and e-mail address listed above.


Some Vets Can Go to CVS ‘MinuteClinics’ For Minor Illnesses

By Hope Yen | Associated Press

(ABC News) Some ailing veterans can now use their federal health care benefits at CVS “MinuteClinics” to treat minor illnesses and injuries, under a pilot program announced Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new program, currently limited to the Phoenix area, comes three years after the VA faced allegations of chronically long wait times at its centers, including its Phoenix facility, which treats about 120,000 veterans.

The Phoenix pilot program is a test-run by VA Secretary David Shulkin who is working on a nationwide plan to reduce veterans’ wait times.

Veterans would not be bound by current restrictions under the VA’s Choice program, which limits outside care to those who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment or have to drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Instead, Phoenix VA nurses staffing the medical center’s help line will be able to refer veterans to MinuteClinics for government-paid care when “clinically appropriate.”

Shulkin has made clear he’d like a broader collaboration of “integrated care” nationwide between the VA and private sector in which veterans have wider access to private doctors. But, he wants the VA to handle all scheduling and “customer service” — something that veterans groups generally support but government auditors caution could prove unwieldy and expensive.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation to temporarily extend the $10 billion Choice program until its money runs out, pending the administration’s plan due out by fall. That broader plan would have to be approved by Congress.

“Our number one priority is getting veterans’ access to care when and where they need it,” said Baligh Yehia, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for health for community care. “The launch of this partnership will enable VA to provide more care for veterans in their neighborhoods.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a long-time advocate of veterans’ expanded access to private care, lauded the new initiative as an “important step forward.”

“Veterans in need of routine health care services should not have to wait in line for weeks to get an appointment when they can visit community health centers like MinuteClinic to receive timely and convenient care,” he said.

The Veterans Health Administration said it opted to go with a CVS partnership in Phoenix after VA officials there specifically pushed for the additional option. They cited the feedback of local veterans and the success of a smaller test run with CVS last year in Palo Alto, Calif.

» Continue the Story

Original Source: Some vets can go to CVS ‘MinuteClinics’ for minor illnesses

AMVETS is ‘Deeply Concerned’ About VA Secretary Position

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
(301) 683-4035

AMVETS is ‘Deeply Concerned’ About VA Secretary Position

AMVETS National Headquarters, Jan. 9th, 2017 – American Veterans (AMVETS) is deeply concerned that the incoming administration, less than two weeks before President-elect Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, has yet to provide any clarity on who will lead the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) once he takes office.

“We cannot afford any lapse in leadership at the VA, especially at the Secretary level,” said AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly. “Millions of American Veterans receive necessary, earned care and benefits from the VA every day. The transition between administrations naturally brings uncertainty, but that must be minimized with a timely decision by the incoming president regarding the VA Secretary.”

“We, the veterans’ community, have been patient because we want this decision to be made wisely, with all of the facts taken into account. We realize a lot of misinformation has been spread over the past year-plus, and that takes time to cut through. We do not want to rush this, but timeliness is crucial,” Chenelly said. “A lot of important work on behalf of veterans may go to waste if the wrong decision is made or if it takes too long to decide.”

Last August, Mr. Trump addressed AMVETS’ national convention by video.

“We listened as President-elect Trump said veterans would receive the care and benefits they earned and need if he were elected. We met with his staff before the election, and we’ve twice met with his transition team after the election. We want and need President-elect Trump to make the right decisions on leadership and direction. We’ve offered our full assistance, including a standing offer to travel to New York City to meet with him. We are marching in his inauguration parade. We want him to be successful in fulfilling his promise to veterans. But we will hold him accountable if he does not,” Chenelly said.

AMVETS is among a group of the nation’s most experienced veterans’ organizations, collectively representing more than 5 million veterans. Weeks ago, they collectively requested a meeting with President-elect Trump, offering their counsel as he decides who should lead the VA moving forward. That request has gone unanswered.

Today AMVETS asks all who want what’s best for our nation’s heroes to call on President-elect Trump to meet directly with the veterans’ service organizations as soon as possible.

AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years.

IVF and Adoption Costs To Be Covered for Wounded Veterans

By Lisa Ryan |

Thousands of veterans in the U.S. who became infertile because of injuries in combat will now get a chance at starting a family, since the Department of Veterans Affairs is set to start covering IVF and adoption costs, the Washington Post reports.

There has been “widespread” use of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq, and veterans who served in those regions have had more spinal and genital injuries than in past conflicts. Many veterans with such injuries have been unable to conceive a child naturally as a result. Yet, according to the Post, for the past 24 years, the VA has been banned from covering adoption or IVF.

The bill that calls for the VA to cover those costs for the next two years was signed by President Obama last week, with a provision authorized by Senator Patty Murray, a Washington State Democrat. IVF can be quite costly (around $30,000 for several tries), and the VA is using existing funds to cover the costs for now. Murray hopes to get the procedure covered permanently, while the VA supports legislation that would add IVF to the list of services it offers.

Walinda West, a spokesperson for the VA, told the Post in a statement, “Our goal is to restore, to the greatest extent possible, the physical and mental capabilities of veterans with service-connected injuries. The provision of assisted reproductive technologies would do that.”

Original Source: IVF and Adoption Costs Will Finally Be Covered for Wounded Veterans

Suicide Prevention Month: #BeThere


Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of Public Affairs/Media Relations
Washington, DC 20420
Phone: (202) 461-7600

VA Highlights Initiatives to Prevent Veteran and Servicemember Suicide

WASHINGTON – Today marks the start of Suicide Prevention Month and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is asking for the entire nation’s help in reducing Veteran suicide. VA is calling on community leaders, supervisors, colleagues, friends, and family members to BeThere for Veterans and Service members starting with a simple act, which can play a pivotal role in preventing suicide.

“You don’t have to be a trained professional to support someone who may be going through a difficult time,” said Dr. Caitlin Thompson, Director of the VA Office of Suicide Prevention. “We want to let people know that things they do every day, like calling an old friend or checking in with a neighbor, are strong preventive factors for suicide because they help people feel less alone. That’s what this campaign is about – encouraging people to be there for each other.”

The campaign also highlights VA resources that are available to support Veterans and Servicemembers who are coping with mental health challenges or are at risk for suicide, and it encourages everyone to share these resources with someone in their life.

“We hope our Suicide Prevention Month efforts help educate people about the VA and community resources available nationwide,” said VA Under Secretary for Health David J. Shulkin, M.D. “We’re committed to working with experts and organizations across the country to identify ways we can help Veterans and Servicemembers get the care they deserve and to expand the network of mental health support.”

Veteran suicide data released by the VA Office of Suicide Prevention in early August 2016 serves as a foundation for informing and evaluating suicide prevention efforts inside the VA health care system and for developing lifesaving collaborations with community-based health care partners.

VA plans to host a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholder groups in the coming months as part of its plan to develop a public health strategy for preventing Veteran suicide. In August, VA hosted its first roundtable discussion, “Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business,” with corporate sector partners. In September, VA will host the Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Innovations event, which will bring together a community of experts from business, industry, academia, and government agencies to collaboratively identify solutions for reducing suicide rates among Veterans and Servicemembers. In addition, new programs such as REACH VET are being launched nationwide in September to identify Veterans in VHA care who may be vulnerable, in order to provide the care they need before a crisis occurs.

For more information about VA’s suicide prevention efforts:

AMVETS Service Officer Answering Questions in DeKalb, Il

Original story appeared on

An AMVETS Department of Illinois service officer will share information with veterans Sept. 10 at the DeKalb Post at 421 Oak St. DeKalb, IL 60115.

Appointment are not needed, however a personal one-on-one appointment can be scheduled. Email to schedule an appointment.

Always free of charge, AMVETS service officers offer information, counseling and claims service to all honorably discharged veterans and their dependents concerning disability compensation, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pension, education, employment and other benefits.

Accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, AMVETS service officers are trained in all aspects of veteran’s benefits and are knowledgeable about changes in VA regulations, entitlements, policies and procedures.

Original Source: AMVETS service officer to be in DeKalb

About AMVETS National Service Officers Program
A nationwide cadre of AMVETS National Service Officers are stationed at Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Offices and Medical Centers. Information, counseling and claims service are offered to all veterans and their dependents in matters concerning education, disability compensation, employment, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pension and other benefits, all at no cost to the claimant.

About AMVETS National Service Foundation
The National Service Foundation (oftentimes referred to as simply “the Foundation”) is the fund-raising arm of AMVETS. A corporate subsidiary of the parent organization, it funds a variety of programs benefiting America’s veterans and their communities. Among them is the National Service Officer Program, the Memorial Carillon Program, the Americanism Program, AMVETS scholarships, youth programs and hospital projects.