Week Round-up (May 1-5)
Some of the top stories circulating around the veteran community.
What SECVA Shulkin said: Military Times reported that the VA is seeking to close more than 1,100 VA buildings, 430 of which are vacant and 735 are underutilized. The situation is costing the government $25 million annually, and Shulkin proposed the VA work with the pentagon when considering which buildings to close, known as Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Shulkin also expressed concern that the VA budget not be increased in the future. VA efforts will also be spending the summer establishing a new medical records system.
Former director of Women Marines dies at 100 years old. Julia Hamblet, the longest-serving director of women Marines, died at a nursing home in Williamsburg, Virginia, May 1. Hamblet was one of the first women to be commissioned as an officer during World War II, and by the war’s end, had commanded 2,600 women and became the director of the Women’s Reserve. She retired from the Marine Corps in 1965 and transitioned into the U.S. Office of Education (now the Department of Education). After 13 years, she retired to Alexandria, Virginia, and volunteered with the YMCA and American Red Cross.
Congress heard from several service organizations and advocates the last few weeks when a reformed bill proposed taxing service members to fund their educational pursuits later in life. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., described opposition to the reform as “a giant step backward,” and hoped VSO’s would accept the bill as the Committee moved on to other issues, specifically the VA.
President Trump gave the green light for the formation of a new Veteran Affairs Accountability Office April 26. The team will specifically look into the waste of resources and irrelevant employees at VA establishments nationwide. The signing of the executive order comes just days after reports of incompetent management at the VA Medical Center in Washington D.C. surfaced. The order should help bridge trust between the VA and many veterans who’ve experienced subpar treatment over the years. While currently in the mindset of establishing a leaner and centralized system, the order could lead to firing of several VA employees, diminishing of wasteful practices at VAMCs, and maintain the protection clauses for whistleblowers. The VA plans to place an executive director in the accountability office by mid-June.
AMVETS teams w/ VA in “Shark Tank” innovation competition. AMVETS announced a partnership with the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Diffusion team on a nationwide VA Medical Center competition April 24. The Under Secretary of Health Shark Tank Competition, inspire by ABC’s Shark Tank, focuses on celebrating diverse practices among VA Medical Center’s that yield success.
“AMVETS has a proud history of assisting Veterans and sponsoring programs that serve our country and its citizens,” said Joseph R. Chenelly, AMVETS’s executive director. “We’re pleased to work with VA to increase innovation within its health care system.”
Presentations for the competition will take place in June, with AMVETS and other veteran service organizations currently reviewing several practice proposals from centers.
MOST RECENT: The ACHA may do more harm than help for veterans.
The proposed American Health Care Act offers tax credits for citizens, permitted they are not eligible for other low-cost government health care.. such as VA care. This directly affects the somewhat 7 million veterans who are eligible for VA care, but are not enrolled, forcing them to either turn to the VA or face the consequences of going without. Republicans created a small clause in light of the situation, titled “special rule with respect to veterans health programs,” explaining that vets who were not enrolled in VA care would be eligible for tax credits. But Republicans knew the bill would most likely not withstand a Democrat filibuster, so they sent it through an up-and-down vote. The problem with this is it would need to be passed on to the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, where it could become a regular legislation proposal, be subject to deliberation and filibustering, and a long bureaucratic process for new health care. Republicans stand behind the 2012 IRS rule that as long as vets were not receiving care through the VA system, they were eligible for tax credits, an effort made under Obamacare to protect veterans. But if Obamacare is scrapped, so is that rule. Long story short, in an effort to enhance health for America, lawmakers may have just slighted those who protect it.