SIMPSON AUTHORS VETERAN JOB TRAINING LEGISLATION
April 2, 2002


Contact: Luci Willits 208-334-1953

http://www.house.gov/simpson

"The sole purpose of this bill is long-term, sustained employment for America's veterans who risked their lives protecting our freedoms."

- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Chairman of the House Veterans Benefits Subcommittee, has authored legislation to enhance veterans' job training programs.

"The Jobs for Veterans Act" (H.R. 4015) is a bipartisan bill also cosponsored by Veterans Benefits Subcommittee ranking member, Silvestre Reyes and full Veterans Committee Chairman Chris Smith and ranking member Lane Evans. A hearing in the House Veterans' Benefits Subcommittee will be held on April 18 to discuss the bill.

"The sole purpose of this bill is long-term, sustained employment for America's veterans who risked their lives protecting our freedoms," Simpson said. "This bill is about providing accountability and incentives for state Job Service programs to secure jobs for veterans."

Simpson's legislation reforms an outdated system and enhances current job training programs. The legislation provides priority of service to veterans in any job-training program funded in whole or in part by the Department of Labor. The bill also requires the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training to establish and implement a comprehensive performance accountability system to measure the performance of veterans' employment and training staff funded through about $200 million in annual staffing grants to the states.

Accountability is a major priority for the bill. States that provide the highest quality of services or that have made significant improvements in service will receive more funding. States will have more flexibility in managing the grants that staff the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program and Local Veterans Employment Representatives Programs. This flexibility will include whether staff is full or part-time and where they are located.

The bill also requires the Secretary of Labor to establish a one-stop job training and placement service for military personnel and veterans.

"Whether the service member is stationed at the 38th parallel in Korea, on a nuclear sub in the South Pacific, or at a base right here in the United States, this initiative will put jobs or job training right at their finger tips," Simpson said.

Simpson's legislation establishes the President's National Hire Veterans Committee to furnish employers with information about the training and skills of veterans and disabled veterans. The Committee also will facilitate the hiring of veterans and disabled veterans through America's Career Kit National Labor Exchange.

"Each state will have a Committee largely made up of employers -- that's what will make the Committee work," Simpson said. "Veterans are a unique national resource and hiring veterans is a good business decision -- period."

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUYER LETTER LEADS TO INVESTIGATION OF MAGGOT INFESTATION AT VA HOSPITAL
April 2, 2002

Calls Conditions that Led to Nasal Myiasis in Comatose patients "Horrible and Completely Intolerable"

Washington, DC - Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, applauded the swift actions taken by Secretary Anthony Principi in response to a letter he wrote the morning of March 28, demanding an explanation regarding the unsanitary conditions at the Kansas City VA Medical Center that led to the maggot infestation of two patients back in 1998.

"America's Veterans deserve the best healthcare we can offer and the conditions that led to maggots being found in the noses of comatose patients are horrible and completely intolerable," Chairman Buyer stated. "I believe it raises serious questions regarding the quality of care for patients at that facility." After reading the March 25, 2002, American Medical Association article detailing the incident and discovering that a VA Inspector General report, dated January 2002, found that many of the same conditions still exist three years later, Chairman Buyer decided to send the letter.

Chairman Buyer applauds Secretary Principi's decisive action to relieve senior management of their duties and initiate an investigation. "As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations I intend to remain actively engaged and will work with Secretary Principi to ensure that such a travesty does not happen again, and that no veteran should ever have to receive such deplorable care."

Congressman Buyer is a Lt. Col. in the Army Reserves and has served on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee since 1993.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Please visit http://veterans.house.gov, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs web site, named 'One of the Best Web Sites in Congress' by the Congressional Management Foundation, May 3, 1999.
 


ARMED FORCES NEWS

LONG TERM CARE PREMIUMS ANNOUNCED
April 4
 

The Office of Personnel Management has established initial premiums for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. The rates are effective during the early enrollment program, which began March 25 and continues through May 15. Pre- packaged policies can be purchased for three- or five-year periods, with daily benefits of $100 or $150. Individuals wishing greater flexibility can purchase daily benefits in $25 increments ranging from $50 to $300. For persons aged 18-30, premiums are $8.40 per month or $32.00 per month, depending on the type of inflation protection chosen, for a policy that offers a three-year, daily benefit of $100 and a 90-day waiting period before benefits begin. After age 30, premiums will vary based on age at purchase, amount of coverage, length of coverage and other factors. To request an early enrollment kit, call 1-800-582-3337.

LTC Enrollment And Eligibility Guidelines
The Long Term Care early enrollment period (previous item) is most appropriate for individuals who are better informed about long-term care insurance, says the Office of Personnel Management. OPM urges those who are not familiar with this insurance product to use the early enrollment period to decide which, if any, long-term care insurance best fits their needs. Additional plan options, including an unlimited benefit, will be available during the regular open enrollment, which runs from July 1 through December 31, 2002. According to OPM, the following are eligible for LTC:

Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including employees of the U.S. Postal Service and Tennessee Valley Authority, but not including employees of the District of Columbia government.

Federal annuitants, surviving spouses of deceased federal or postal employees or annuitants who are receiving a federal survivor annuity, individuals receiving compensation from the Department of Labor who are separated from the federal service, members or former members of the uniformed services entitled to retired or retainer pay, and retired military reservists at the time they qualify for an annuity (also known as gray area reservists). Retired employees of the D.C. government are not included.

Current spouses of employees and annuitants (including surviving spouses of members and retired members of the uniformed services who are receiving a survivor annuity from the uniformed services).

Adult children (at least 18 years old, including adopted children and stepchildren) of living employees and annuitants. 

Parents, parents-in-law, and step-parents of living employees (but not of annuitants).


HILL COUNTRY VETERANS COUNCIL
1700 Sidney Baker, Suite 100
Kerrville, Texas 78028
830.896.1157 -  Fax 830.896.1175
www.hcvc.org

 12 April 2002

RECAP OF MEETING WITH CORONADO

 The following members of the Hill Country Veterans Council - Jack Ledford, Bob Weinberg, Joe Benham, Joe Strange, Doke Nibblett, Bill Stacy and Walter Schellhase, met with Mr. Jose Coronado and his staff of about 20 to discuss several issue as they relate to the Kerrville Hospital. Following is the recap of that meeting: 

Team Doctor Shortage - Dr. Bacon will (and is) hire three local doctors on a fee bases in order to reduce some waiting time. In addition, two new doctors are expected on staff very shortly and a third should be on staff later this year.

Appointment Time - The additional doctors as referenced in the first item should help a great deal in reducing the long appointments being experienced now.

Parking @ Building - The current parking restrictions have been dictated by VA Washington and will not be changed any time soon. There was a request made to not ticket those Veterans that double close to the pharmacy while picking up prescriptions.

Urologist - The urologist coming from Audie Murphy will always bring an intern with him when coming to Kerrville. There is also a PA coming to Kerrville every other Thursday to assist in urology work. This will help reduce the 100 plus days it takes to get an appointment. There is also an effort being made to contract with a local urologist to take part of the load.

Library - There will be no changes in the library situation at this time. All though Nick will monitor the situation closely over the next few months to determine how the new system works. There is a question as to what has happened to the many books the local library has given the hospital.

Eye Clinic - Current waiting time in November was over a year. Today it is about 140 days. A local contract has been given to TSO to do some of the back log work. The effort is to reduce this waiting time considerable in the next few weeks.

Cancer Contract - Request for approval to use Dr. Barnett has been forward and a positive reply in expected in the next couple of weeks. This action will let the Veteran take cancer treatment here in Kerrville.

More Local Contracts - Orthopedic waiting time in November was 102 days. Now it is down to about 35 days as the results of using some local physicians to help work off the backlog. An audiologist has been contacted to perhaps use the audio room at the hospital when not in use by the hospital doctor. This action is being taken in an effort to reduce the waiting time for these appointments.

Nurses Concerns - The issue of computers going down will be addressed by the Audie staff.

Corpus Christi Issue - This issue is on hold for now - until VA Central releases the study made to determine the feasible of the VA operation the CC facility. The estimated cost to put back a 40 bed hospital was about 27 million.


HILL COUNTRY VETERANS COUNCIL
1700 Sidney Baker, Suite 100
Kerrville, Texas 78028
830.896.1157 -  Fax 830.896.1175
www.hcvc.org

 12 April 2002

DISCUSSION PAPER
For Meeting With
Mr. Jose R. Coronado & Staff
 

As part of the quarterly meeting with you and your staff, the Hill Country Veterans Council would like to discuss several specific areas of concern as they relate to the Kerrville Division.


Team Doctor Shortage- There is a real need for more team doctors. As you know, the workload
for the doctors in Kerrville exceeds 126 %. With the retirement of 
additional doctors, this workload will increase. We understand 
there is a problem with the quality of the applicants for doctor's positions. If this is the issue, what needs to be done to attract better- qualified doctors?

Nurses Concerns - Some nurses are concerned with the quality of care being provided the Veterans. Some say we are "pushing pills" instead of providing adequate care due to the current workload. 

Appointments - Appointments are being made way out in the future. In some cases as much as six months. The doctors say this is due to the abnormal workload.

Parking @ Building - What is the status of the "no parking" near the building? This is a real handicap on the Veteran and his family.

Pathologist Status - We understand after the retirement of the current pathologist, this service will no longer be available in Kerrville. This is not good news for the Veterans being treated in Kerrville. What can be done to help improve this situation? Can a local contract be awarded?

Urologist - Kerrville is still in real need of an urologist. What can be done to improve this service?

Library - Is there additional plans for the library?

IG Clinic - What is the status of the IG Clinic? Will it remain with Dr. Eastin or is he going to be made a team doctor? 

Eye Clinic - The last time there was a large backlog of appointments a local contract was let to Dr. Priour. That arrangement seem to work good for the Veterans. Is there any possibility of this being done again?

Cancer Contract - There was an action initiated by Dr. Barnett to get a contract for cancer 
treatment here in Kerrville. Has anything become of that initiative? 

More Local Contract s - Is there any possibility of more local contracts being awarded to local
doctors for such things as urology, pathology, Orthopedic, and Oncology
in order to reduce the waiting time and far out appointments?

Corpus Christi Issue - What is the statue? Do we need to be doing anything?
 


M E M O R A N D U M

TO: Action E-List Members
FROM: Joseph A. Violante, National Legislative Director

SUBJ: URGE YOUR SENATORS TO COSPONSOR AND SUPPORT S. 2079

DATE: April 12, 2002

Improving the appeals processes to make them work for, not against, veterans is one of the DAV's top priorities. Responding to recommendations of the DAV and The Independent Budget, published each year by the DAV, AMVETS, the Paralyzed Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman John D. "Jay" Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), introduced S. 2079 to make four very important changes in the law governing appeals. S. 2079 will require the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to enforce the rule that VA must give veterans the benefit of the doubt where the evidence neither proves nor disproves the claim. The bill will also expand the powers of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse decisions of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and will empower the Federal Circuit to set aside disability rating schedule provisions that are arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law. S. 2079 will authorize the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to order the Government to pay fees to non-attorneys who successfully represent appellants, under the same terms that the Court now awards fees to attorneys. These changes will improve the prospects for successful appeals by veterans seeking remedies for erroneous denials of the benefits they rightfully deserve. In addition, because current law somewhat shields VA decisions from full review and this bill will require the courts to make a more probing review, it will require VA to make better decisions. It will improve the quality of decisions by VA. 

Like any legislation of this type, S. 2079 will meet with resistance. We must therefore have a strong grassroots effort from DAV and Auxiliary members to persuade Congress to pass this legislation.

If you have not already done so, also contact your House member to urge support for H.R. 4018, a similar bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Prepared e-mail messages for both of these bills and other important legislation are available at our web site at www.dav.org. Please follow the detailed instructions in each alert. As always, thank you for your support.
 


ARMED FORCES NEWS
CONCURRENT RECEIPT NEARS BOILING POINT
APRIL 12, 2002

Under the present law, military retirees, unlike any other retirees, generally must forfeit one dollar of retired pay for each dollar of VA disability they are awarded. In a major step to eliminate this inequity, the House approved $581 million in the fiscal 2003 budget, with a total five-year funding of $6.1 billion. Although this fell far short of the $2.9 billion needed annually for full concurrent receipt, the action represented a historic first step. Following the House's action, the Senate Budget Committee has approved a similar measure. The next move is up to the full Senate, which might consider the issue this week. If it does, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to propose an amendment that would add funding to fully eliminate the inequity. Several veterans' organizations are alerting their members to contact their senators urging passage of the Reid amendment when it is presented.
 

HCVC Directors Meet with VA Officials

RECAP OF MEETING WITH CORONADO
12 April 2002

The following members of the Hill Country Veterans Council Jack Ledford, Bob Weinberg, Joe Benham, Joe Strange, Doak Nibblett, Bill Stacy and Walter Schellhase,  met with Mr. Jose Coronado and his staff of about 20 to discuss several  issue as they relate to the Kerrville Hospital.  Following is the recap of that meeting:

Team Doctor Shortage    - Dr. Bacon will (and is) hire three local doctors on a fee bases in order to reduce some waiting time.  In addition, two new doctors are expected on staff very shortly and a third should be on staff later this year.

Appointment Time          - The additional doctors as referenced in the first item should help a great deal in reducing the long appointments being experienced now.

Parking @ Building       -  The current parking restrictions have been dictated by VA Washington and will not be changed any time soon.  There was a request made to not ticket those Veterans that double close to the pharmacy while picking up prescriptions.

Urologist                           - The urologist coming from Audie Murphy will always bring an intern with him when coming to Kerrville.  There is also a PA coming to Kerrville every other Thursday to assist in urology work.   This will help reduce the 100 plus days it takes to get an appointment.  There is also an effort being made to contract with a local urologist to take part of the load.

Library                               -  There will be no changes in the library situation at this time.  All though Nick will monitor the situation closely over the next few months to determine how the new system works.  There is a question as to what has happened to the many books the local library has given the hospital.

Eye Clinic                          - Current waiting time in November was over a year.  Today it is about 140 days.  A local contract has been given to TSO to do some of the back log work.  The effort is to reduce this waiting time considerable in the next few weeks.

Cancer Contract              -  Request for approval to use Dr. Barnett has been forward and a positive reply in expected in the next couple of weeks.  This action will let the Veteran take cancer treatment here in Kerrville.

More Local Contracts   -  Orthopedic waiting time in November was 102 days.  Now it is down to about 35 days as the results of using some local physicians to help work off the backlog.  An audiologist has been contacted to perhaps use the audio room at the hospital when not in use by the hospital doctor.  This action is being taken in an effort to reduce the waiting time for these appointments.

Nurses Concerns            -  The issue of computers going down will be addressed by the Audie staff.

Corpus Christi Issue      -  This issue is on hold for now until VA Central releases the study made to determine the feasible of the VA operation the CC facility.  The estimated cost to put back a 40 bed hospital was about 27 million. 


MY SAN ANTONIO
Military 
Some of Uncle Sam's doctors have rap sheets
By
Matt Kelley 
Express-News Staff Writer

Associated Press Web Posted : 04/15/2002 12:00 AM WASHINGTON 

 More than 100 doctors employed by the federal government have been convicted of crimes or disciplined by state medical boards, including one physician now treating veterans who was convicted of helping a terrorist group, an Associated Press review of medical licenses has found. Federal agencies are required to check the backgrounds of doctors they employ, but are not prohibited from hiring those with criminal records, revoked licenses or medical punishments. All a doctor needs is a medical license valid in one state to get a government job. Dr. Suzy Melkonian, who is paid $48 an hour as a blood cancer specialist at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, was convicted 21 years ago in Switzerland of extorting money for a group that staged terrorist bombings and assassinations. Melkonian was reprimanded five years ago by California for failing to disclose her Swiss conviction when applying for a medical license. Despite Melkonian's conviction, VA managers believed her training and patient care were good and that "she'd be a qualified member of our staff," said Dr. Dean Norman, chief of staff for the Los Angeles VA hospital. An AP review of medical board disciplinary records identified at least 118 federal doctors who have worked for the government in the past two years who were convicted of crimes or punished by state authorities for offenses ranging from sex and drug abuse to incompetence. Three of those doctors have been fired in recent months, including one whose conviction for attempted child molestation should have legally barred him from getting his job, and two who had relapses of conduct that prompted earlier punishments. In all, 0.5 percent of the more than 20,800 doctors working for the federal government have been convicted of crimes or punished, records show. In the profession nationally, the rate is 2.6 percent. But advocates say the government's choice of doctors should be better than the public at large, particularly because federal physicians serve the vulnerable, the underprivileged and those who have fought to keep the country safe. "How many times do we have to get (expletive)? Nobody seems to care all that much," said Sherri Siegle, a Choctaw nurse who worked for the Indian Health Service. Siegle said she checked the backgrounds of doctors at her Oklahoma hospital after seeing them make mistakes, and found several who had been previously punished. Fourteen punished doctors work for IHS. Punished federal physicians have treated veterans, soldiers, American Indians, astronauts and federal prisoners. They also have researched drug safety, investigated new addiction treatments, and been agency medical advisers. They include: At least five reprimanded for neglecting patients who died.11 convicted criminals, including doctors who ordered child pornography, defrauded Medicaid, or stole drugs from the VA.18 punished for sexual misconduct, including a doctor disciplined for having sex with five patients.37 punished for drug violations, including three whose drug use forced them to leave surgeries and three prison doctors who now treat prisoners for drug abuse and other ailments. The majority - 75 - work for the VA, the largest federal health care agency. Some veterans' groups want VA Secretary Anthony Principi to investigate. "If this is true - and these are some serious allegations - I assume the secretary will do something about it," said Dick Flanagan, a spokesman for the group AMVETS. Federal officials acknowledge screening processes are not always thorough. Dr. Thomas Craig, the VA's chief medical officer, said overworked hospital officials sometimes can miss problems or fail to check a doctor's background thoroughly. The VA has a new computer system to assist background checks. Melkonian and other punished doctors said they told supervisors about their pasts.  Melkonian was convicted in 1981 of extorting about $6,000 from a Swiss businessman to help the now-defunct Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, according to California medical board records and news reports. ASALA, identified by the U.S. government as a terrorist group, claimed responsibility for scores of bombings and assassinations, mostly of Turkish targets.  Melkonian was arrested in 1980 after an explosion in her Geneva hotel room led police to a partly assembled bomb. Afterward,  ASALA and a splinter group began a bombing campaign aimed at freeing her and an ASALA leader. Melkonian denied being a member of the terrorist group. The Swiss court convicted her of extortion, gave her an 18-month suspended sentence, and expelled her. "These events have nothing whatsoever to do with my practice of medicine," Melkonian, 46, said in a written statement. 04/15/2002 

Related Links 
Special Sections The Korean War Remembering Vietnam Area Installations Web Links U.S. Army U.S. Navy U.S. Air Force U.S. Marines U.S. Coast Guard Fort Sam Brooks AFB Kelly AFB Lackland AFB Randolph AFB Veterans Administration National Reunion Registry Veterans groups Vietnam veterans American Legion Veterans of Foreign Wars National Parks Service Vietnam memoirs War Stories Veterans Voice of Austin Texas Military Forces Museum Message Boards Military Forum Kelly AFB Forum Contact Us Send press releases or story ideas to the City Desk or fax them to 210-250-3105.CommentsSend comments about this section to online editor Crystal Coleman. 

 


ARMED FORCES NEWS
CONCURRENT RECEIPT DEMANDED FOR ALL
April 19, 2002


Because of a 100-year-old law, military retirees, unlike retirees from any other occupation or profession, must forfeit one dollar of retired pay for each dollar of VA disability they are awarded. As a down payment to correct this inequity, the House approved $581 million for concurrent receipt in fiscal 2003, with a total five-year funding of $6.1 billion. Members of The Military Coalition and some House Armed Services Committee aides generally support a plan to distribute this to the most severely disabled - those with 60 percent disabilities or more. Meanwhile, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to propose a plan to fully fund concurrent receipt for all disabled
retirees. This would cost some $3 billion in 2003 and $20 billion over the next five years. Major military associations are saying that fiscal 2003 is the year to eliminate the injustice of this outdated law.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HEARING ADVISORY
April 23, 2002


Committee to Hold Field Hearing in NJ to Examine National Health Care Funding Formula for Veterans

Chairman Chris Smith Calls for Inclusion of ALL Veterans in Adjustments to VERA Formula, Cites GAO & IG Reports

WHEN: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 at 10:00 AM

WHERE: The War Memorial Building, Trenton, New   Jersey

WHO: House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-4)

WHAT: Public Hearing on Health Care Funding Formula for Veterans

(Washington, DC) - Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs today announced that he would hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 30, 2002 in Trenton, NJ to examine the VA's health care funding formula that determines where federal health care dollars for veterans are spent.

The public field hearing will examine the Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation (VERA) formula that apportions federal funding for veterans' health care to each of the 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN), and will focus on recent General Accounting Office (GAO) and VA Inspector General reports calling for changes to the VERA formula.

First developed in 1996, the VERA formula was implemented in April 1997 to better align VA's limited health care resources with the workload at VA facilities across the country, especially to account for population shifts. Recent reports by GAO and the VA Inspector General both recommended that all enrolled veterans be included in VERA's calculation of workload.  Currently, veterans in priority category 7 (those without service-connected disabilities and whose incomes are above defined poverty levels) are not included in VERA.

Chairman Smith has long argued that all veterans - including category 7 veterans - deserve access to timely and comprehensive VA health care.

Witnesses scheduled to testify at the Trenton field hearing include the Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Robert H. Roswell, M.D., authors of the GAO and VA Inspector General reports, and representatives of veterans service organizations from New Jersey.
________________________________________________________________________

Please visit http://veterans.house.gov, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs web site, named 'One of the Best Web Sites in Congress' by the Congressional Management Foundation, May 3, 1999.

 


NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Disabled Veterans Seek Guaranteed Health Care

April 23, 2002


Contact: David E. Autry
(202) 314-5219
April 23, 2002

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV), one of the nation's largest and most respected veterans organizations, has begun an all-out campaign to guarantee that veterans who seek medical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) actually get the care they need.

Millions of veterans who are eligible for health care under existing law do not get it each year because of inadequate funding. Changing veterans health care from a discretionary to a mandatory program, as proposed by the DAV, would correct the existing problem where annual funding of veterans health programs falls far short of what is required to serve all eligible veterans.

Instead of having to be approved each year, funding at the level needed to serve all eligible veterans would be provided automatically. Making veterans health care mandatory would eliminate the year-to-year uncertainty about funding levels that has prevented the VA from adequately planning for and meeting the growing needs of veterans seeking treatment.

George H. Steese, Jr., DAV's National Commander, said the DAV has developed the plan because of the health care rationing that veterans currently experience. "The men and women who have served in the military and sacrificed for America are all entitled to top-quality health care," he said. "It is a right all veterans have earned, but one that all too many are routinely denied."

The DAV proposal has strong support in the veterans community as well as Congress.

There are clear indications from those on Capitol Hill currently involved in funding veterans programs that the DAV plan is an excellent alternative to the current system. Because of that, Steese said the prospects for passage of legislation this year are very encouraging.

The DAV is a congressionally chartered non-profit organization that represents more than 2.7 million disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. For more information, go to www.dav.org.

 


ARMED FORCES NEWS
VA BEGINS CLAIMS PROCESSING PILOT TEST
April 26, 2002


Last October a claims processing task force reported that Department of Veterans Affairs veteran services representatives working on claims had to understand and perform more than 10,000 separate tasks. All incoming claims were placed in the queue and worked when their turn came, regardless of their complexity. In response, the VA is conducting a pilot test using specialty teams. One team will separate claims that can be processed in a day or two and will route more complex claims to specialized teams, such as appeals, or award action teams. Another specialized team, a public contact team, will provide customer service to veterans who walk in, write or e-mail the office about their claim.

CORPUS CHRISTI NAVY HOSPITAL

There is a move by Representative Solomon P. Ortiz to have the Corpus Christi Navy Hospital turned over to VA to run even though the VA has an Outpatient Clinic in Corpus Christi. This clinic has a patient load of 4670 and is operating at 126% capacity.

The only thing this move by Representative Ortiz will do is take dollars from Kerrville and Audie Murphy.  This Navy Hospital now serves at least four (4) other Navy facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast.  Where will the active duty Navy personnel go for medical service if this facility is closed?  Will the VA be asked to provide this service taking more dollars from Kerrville and Audie Murphy?

Please go to the Flash! page, or click on the names below and select the sample letters to Representative Ortiz and Representative Smith.  

You may print, date and sign them from there. Beginners formatting instructions included.
Please print out the following sample letters, and add the date at the top left, and sign your name to let your voice be heard!    

Beginners instructions for printing a personalized letter:

1. Open your Word or Notepad program, and minimize it to your desktop.
2. Open the letter to Ortiz/Smith, then copy by holding the left button of your mouse down, with the cursor at the top of the letter, and drag it across the text until it's all highlighted.
3. With your cursor on the highlighted material, right click and select 'copy' from the menu that pops up.
4. Re-open your Word/Notepad and, holding the cursor at the top of the screen, right click and select 'paste' from the pop-up menu.
5. At that time, you may add the date to the top left of the letter, and type your name, address, phone/fax or whatever personal info. you care to add at the bottom left. Be sure to leave space for your hand signature.
6. When it's edited to your satisfaction, you can print it to your letterhead, or plain paper.

You may click your 'back' button from each letter to return to this page.  Thank you for your support!


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